11. A Fellowship Divided
In the morning, Haldir and several Galadhrim came to their pavilion to accompany the Companions to the shores of the River Silverlode, where they would depart from Lothlorien. For those who would go east and south, the Lord Celeborn had promised two boats such as the Elves of Lorien used, small and light, with leaf-shaped oars. In these, Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Boromir and Pippin would travel down the river to where it flowed into Anduin, and thence to the boundaries of Gondor and Mordor. For the others who would turn west and south, the Lord had granted the use of two Elvish horses, on the condition that when the services of the steeds were no longer needed, they would be set loose and allowed to make their way homeward. The Galadhrim had assembled a floating bridge of linked barges for the passage over Silverlode for Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli and Merry.
They left the City Gate and walked southward along a path through the trees. The way sloped downward, and their progress through the cool morning was swift. The companions spoke little, and Haldir did not question them overmuch, seeing their sadness at the imminent division of their Fellowship.
They came to the quays upon the Silverlode and saw the moored boats and the pair of grey horses that waited. Suddenly the time of departure had come.
Legolas gravely placed his hand upon each of the three hobbits shoulders and spoke soft words to them. Gimli gruffly grasped their hands and slapped their backs. The Elf and Dwarf clasped hands with Boromir, wishing him safe journey in his return home.
Aragorn knelt before Pippin, Sam and Frodo in turn, and embraced each one, placing a gentle kiss upon their brows. Frodo held him longest, and the man and the hobbit gazed deeply into one another's eyes before they parted. Aragorn stood and clasped Boromir's shoulder and promised to come to Minas Tirith as soon as he could.
Merry embraced Sam and Frodo, making them promise to take care of one another. He and Pippin clutched each other tightly.
"Keep safe, Pip," Merry whispered.
"Watch out for yourself, dear cousin," Pippin replied softly.
Finally, Gandalf took the hands of Merry, Legolas and Gimli in turn. He spoke no words, but searched each one's eyes for a long moment. Then he smiled, and each felt his heart fill with a singular reassurance that the dark days ahead would pass, and that light would return. He stood last before Aragorn. After a moment of hesitation, the man and the wizard embraced. To Frodo watching, it seemed that Aragorn's face was momentarily torn with grief. Finally, Gandalf pulled away. He held the man's eyes, nodded once, and smiled faintly. The Ranger hid whatever sorrow he felt and smiled in return.
They loaded the boats, and placed riding blankets and light bridles upon the horses, and were about to depart. At that moment, a great white swan appeared upon the river, seeming to swim toward them. Then they saw that the swan was a ship, and upon it stood Galadriel, and at her side sat Celeborn.
The swan-ship came and tied up at the largest quay, and the Lord and Lady disembarked to join their guests.
"We did not wish you to leave us, friends," Celeborn said, "without giving you our farewells."
"Nor should such honored guests leave the land of the Galadhrim without gifts," said Galadriel.
Chairs were brought, and refreshments, and from aboard the swan-ship gifts wrapped in white cloths were brought and set upon a nearby table. After all had eaten and drunk together one last time, the gifts of the Galadhrim were presented.
For Aragorn, Celeborn had ordered his smiths to fashion a sheath for Andûril.
"The blade that is withdrawn from this sheath shall not break, nor shall it grow dull, or lose its luster."
"And for thee, Estel, I have long held this, and give it to thee now at the request of another." Galadriel held up a great brooch in the shape of an eagle with outstretched wings, wrought of silver, and upon it was a clear green stone. "This jewel was given to me long ago, and I in my turn gave it to my daughter, and she to hers. Wear it now, and take on the name that has been foretold for thee."
To Legolas and Boromir, she gave great bows of yew with quivers of slender arrows, as the Galadhrim warriors used. For Pippin and Merry, she brought forth belts of linked silver leaves clasped with a golden flower. Sam received a small wooden box filled with soil from her garden, and on the box was the rune 'G' in silver. Gimli, blushing and stammering, requested and received three of her golden hairs curled and stored in a folded cloth.
"And for thee, Ring-bearer," she said, "I have prepared this. Within its casing is water from the spring in my garden, and caught in this phial is the light of Eärendil, the Evening Star. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out."
At the last, the Lord and Lady turned to Gandalf.
"From the ruin of Doriath a few things of value were saved," Celeborn said. "Take this, Mithrandir, to replace that which you lost in Moria."
He handed the wizard an Elven sword, as long as Glamdring, and nearly as ancient. The hilt was set with moonstone and sapphire, and a gilded star was carved upon its sheath. "This sword was one of a pair forged for Dior's sons, Eluréd and Elurín, by the master smiths of their great-grand-sire Elu Thingol, looking forward to the days of their maturity to come. But they never reached those days, and had not the chance to use them. One only was saved when Doriath fell. May you put this blade to good use."
The wizard bowed deeply, and slung the sword at his belt.
"And for you, old friend, I have prepared a gift whose value may only be in remembrance of your journey to our Forest," said Galadriel.
She brought forth a staff made of the smooth silvery wood of a mallorn tree. It was as tall as the staff that had been broken upon the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, but lighter in heft. At chest-height, where he would grip it, a brilliant red jewel had been set.
"I know not whether this staff will be merely a prop upon which you may lean in times of weariness, or whether it might prove to have other powers when held in your hand. Take it, and think of Lothlorien, and of those who wait."
Gandalf clasped both her hands in his, and searched her eyes again as deeply as he had on the evening of their arrival in Caras Galadhon. Frodo caught a flicker of light come from their entwined fingers—a gleam of white and red blended together. Then the old wizard leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss upon Galadriel's cheek. Frodo saw a shimmer in the Lady's eyes before she looked downward with a sigh. Gandalf reached out and took Celeborn's hand as well as Galadriel's, and he stood between the Lady and the Lord of Lothlorien. As he looked from one to the other, his aged face seemed etched with sadness, yet upon his lips was a faint smile.
"Old friends, long have we three held fast against the Shadow. Though greater darkness yet lies ahead for each of us, one thing has been certain since Arien took to the heavens: light shall ever follow night, however long it be until dawn breaks. Until that day: namarié."
He squeezed once and released them. Celeborn and Galadriel stepped toward one another and the Lord took his Lady's hand in his and held it gently.
Now Gandalf turned toward his companions, and taking up his new staff, he raised it so that the red gem sparkled in the morning light. His hand seemed to glow as if he held a fiery ember.
"We have already given our good-byes, dear friends. To do so again would strain our already aching hearts. Let us take our separate paths now, and part—the faster to come together again, when all our tasks are complete." He looked at Aragorn. "Farewell, until fate brings us to our next meeting."
Without more words or delay, the Fellowship parted. Boromir and Pippin stepped into one boat, and Gandalf, Sam and Frodo climbed into the other. They launched into the stream of the Silverlode, and with a few strokes of their oars they caught the current and soon were floating swiftly away. Boromir and the wizard held their boats steady for a moment, and the five of them looked back and raised their hands; then the river took them away around a curve in the stream.
Aragorn mounted his horse, and Legolas lifted Merry before him. The Elf of the Greenwood and the dwarf of the Lonely Mountain mounted the second steed. With the Ranger in the lead, they crossed the floating bridge across the Silverlode, and left Lothlorien behind.
Not one of the Fellowship ever came to that land again.
End of Part One
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