11. The Future of Many
CHAPTER 11 - THE FUTURE OF MANY
Mithryn exited the palace and stood on the delicately trellised bridge, hand covering her mouth. Composing herself once more, she strode off toward her cottage trying not to lose her way as the cabins all looked so similar.
Once inside her cozy chamber, she paced about the room in agitated spirits, thinking it best to calm herself before seeking Legolas. Suddenly, a knock sounded at the door. Mithryn pressed her hand to her stomach, trying to pacify the feeling of fluttering butterflies inside. "Enter," she said, nervously. The door opened wide and in strode Legolas. He approached hastily and grasped her tiny hands. "What did you and my father speak of for so long?" he demanded, eyes bearing down on hers.
"You know what was said."
Legolas's eyes turned away from the pain he saw in her face, and released her hands.
"Why did you not tell me?" she pleaded, voice shaking.
"It was a risk I knew you would not approve of," he said, standing at a window, looking out but seeing nothing.
"You were correct in your assumption. I want you to live forever, Legolas."
"Even if it meant being without you for all eternity? If I were to die, how well would you bear my passing?"
Mithryn choked as tears freely fell from her eyes. She knew the answer to his question, but could not bear to reply. The thought of his dying tore her heart apart. She could no more imagine life without him, then she could an after-life. Her own feelings cast aside, however, she would rather continue living a life alone than risk her beloved's immortal life. "Legolas, I think it best for me to go away. I fear I can no longer stay here."
Legolas turned quickly, his face distressed. "You wish to leave? Me? Here? Why? I do not understand! We have only just arrived." Panic streaked through his veins with a swifter, stronger potency than that of the Orc poison, and had a more devastating effect. At length he asked, hardly able to breath, "Do you not want to marry me?"
"Of course I do, Legolas. There is nothing my heart desires more. But, I cannot allow you to sacrifice your life for mine."
"It is by no means certain!"
"Legolas, our love, what we share together, is so uniquely special I cannot imagine either of us surviving if the other were taken. Can you? Your life is much more important to me than my own happiness. It is a risk not worth taking."
Mithryn turned, and began to collect her belongings. Her movements were reluctant, her whole body listless, but her mind would not be persuaded. Legolas watched her in horrified silence, words unable to leave his lips. Mithryn continued, "I think I shall go to Rivendell. It will be nice to travel. How I have hated living in fear all of these years. Later I may return to my little cottage. I will see where the world will take me. Think your father would write a letter to Lord Elrond for me? It is Lord Elrond, is it not?"
In two great strides, Legolas swept her into his tight embrace. "Do not do this, Mithryn. I beg of you; do not go."
Mithryn raised her teary eyes to his. "If I leave, you cannot watch me wither and die with time; you shall live your foreordained life; the life you were born to live...as an immortal Elf. When you truly love someone, you are willing to relinquish your own joy for their sake."
His strong arms did not relax; he still held her firmly in his grip, unwilling to relinquish her. Legolas closed his eyes in agony. "You know not what you ask of me, Mithryn. When you fade away, I shall live on, forever, never to see you again, never to speak with you, never to hold you. How can you wish to condemn me to such a life?"
"Because I love you, Legolas."
Pressing her close, she rested her head on his powerful chest. "You, therefore, leave me no choice." Gently stroking her head, his hand caressed her soft curls. "I would rather have you for whatever time you give me, then not at all. Every moment will I cherish." He leaned down, kissing her with trembling lips, his salty tears blending with her own on her soft cheek. Holding her securely, he said: "I swear I shall do whatever you ask of me to the best of my heart's ability. Above all else, I want you to be happy."
"I am happy with you," she said, hands reaching up to his silky face, wiping away the tears.
Haldof gazed upward to the overcast sky, clouds churning high above him. "Rain is nigh," he thought as he walked along the quiet forest floor. He stopped at the massive trunk of Belegaladh and leaned against it in deep contemplation.
"Think it will rain?" a voice sounded from above. Haldof turned hastily to see Legolas sitting alone, prominently in the boughs of the mighty tree.
"Why did you not tell me you were there?" Haldof scolded.
"I just did. Will you not come up?"
Haldof sighed and climbed up the gnarled tree. Though he sat beside Legolas, his mood remained irritable. Silence ensued while Legolas shrouded himself in a brooding gloom. Out of the corner of his eye, Haldof studied his brother closely, his disposition thawing at the sight of Legolas's despair. "Do you think Father is still in council with Mithryn?" Haldof said at last.
"How did you know he called her forth?"
"Galamed told me of it."
"Ah," Legolas said. "Nay, their meeting has ceased; I have seen her."
"And..." Legolas continued, reluctantly, "and she will have none of it."
"What?" Haldof exclaimed in confusion.
"She threatened to leave if I would not promise to live on after she has gone."
Haldof's face softened with newfound esteem for the mortal. He had then only to regret his own conduct toward her, which now embarrassed him greatly.
"I know not how I shall live without her, Haldof, once she has passed." Legolas said, grief for the future weighing down upon him.
Turning to him, Haldof comfortingly placed a hand on Legolas's back. Though he could not approve of Mithryn, the love for his brother was foremost. Haldof sighed, relenting his hardened will. "Mithryn has lived a rather prolonged life for a mortal; is this not so?"
"Aye, it is true. Long has she resided in seclusion, aging slowly."
"Legolas, you know not how it will be in the future. She is a mortal, to be sure, but is afforded a much longer life than other mortals we know of. It is not certain how many years she has, of course, but I would think them plenty. What I mean is, this is a lot of drama for an event that is very far away, do you not think? You always were one for dramatics, and making a scene..."
The realization of these irrefutable words hit Legolas harder than any orc blow. His mind had been so filled with the thought of her eventual death, never did he think of the length of her life. Under these circumstances, she could, with all probability, live many centuries before leaving him.
Haldof continued when Legolas said naught. "You will not have eternity together, I admit; however, even if you were to wed an elf, there is still no certainty. You may yet be killed in battle. I say this only as an example. What I mean to say is, marry where your heart bids you, and be grateful of the time that is given to you. That is all anyone can hope for, I believe."
"Then, you are not opposed to her?"
"Nay," Haldof replied, slightly lying through his teeth. "I'll readily admit that the ramifications of a mortal wed to my brother did unhinge me, at first. But, if you choose to stay with us, I care not whom you marry...so long as it is not to a Dwarf-maiden!" Haldof said blithely, as he jocosely nudged his brother's arm. Legolas laughed, shaking his head at his brother's wry sense of humour.
"That, I could never consent to," Haldof continued. Legolas replied by giving him a playful push in brotherly fashion, forcing Haldof to quickly regain his precarious balance on the branch. Warm spring rain began to fall and, within minutes, both were drenched through. The brothers, however, cared little as Wood-elves have a bond with nature and feel joy in all weathers.
Suddenly, Galamed and Tarnil, equally saturated, ran to the base of Belegaladh, eyes searching through the foliage. "Legolas! Haldof!" they cried. "You must come!"
Seeing their brothers' alarm, Legolas and Haldof leaped out of the tree with aerialist alacrity, gracefully landing on the soaked ground. "What is it?" Legolas asked promptly.
"Elmarin; her time has come," Tarnil said attempting to catch his breath.
"The childbirth labour began last night," said Galamed, continuing. "Taranin was on watch, but none did Elmarin call to aid her."
"It was my understanding that Taranin had been relieved of his duties," Legolas said.
"Elmarin would hear none of it as she is weeks early," Galamed said, abashed.
"Taranin just returned from his watch and discovered her," Tarnil added, "and all does not go well."
Legolas, in haste, headed for the palace, and all followed his step. "Have the midwives been summoned?"
"Aye," said Galamed, "but Elmarin is past the age to beget children. I spoke to Narbeleth briefly, and she has much concern for Elmarin. And of the child..."
"Does Father know?" Haldof inquired.
"Aye," Tarnil answered, "but he is resigned to whatever the fates may bring. However, you know how long it has been since a child was born into our kingdom. If it should die..."
Legolas's rapid stride broke away from the path to the palace, and veered right. All three followed him, despite confusion. "Where are you going?" Haldof asked, baffled. Not answering, Legolas halted at Mithryn's cottage and knocked on the door. "Mithryn?!" There was no reply. He knocked loudly once more, and called her again, before opening the door. The room stood empty. The only movement came from the sapphire curtains blowing in the breeze. Legolas gazed about the lifeless room, a pool of water forming at his feet.
"Where is she?" Tarnil asked.
"I do not know." Legolas quickly exited the room, shutting the door. "We must find her!"
"Legolas, if you fear she has left you, now is not the time to search," Haldof said, indignantly. "Our kindred need our assistance!"
"Mithryn is an exceptional healer," Legolas explained, allowing his brother's foolish words to pass. "You know not her power. She could be of great help. What assistance could we be, Haldof? We know nothing of bringing Elves into the world."
"And what can Mithryn know of that matter?" rebuked Haldof, aggravated.
"It is not in the delivery where her strengths lie. We must find her if we wish to be of any aid to Elmarin and Taranin." The three nodded. "Tarnil, check the stables for Anfalas, her mare. Haldof and Galamed, scour the paths. She may be eastbound."
"And what of you?" inquired Haldof.
Legolas's thoughts sailed painfully back to Mithryn's words of Rivendell and Lord Elrond. "I must see Father. Go!" All four brothers ran with haste in various directions, sprinting with agile grace through the downpour of rain.
Legolas burst into the great hall to find, not his father, but a gathering of a hundred noble Elven lords and ladies, patiently waiting for news. Taranin sat, obviously distressed, but rose upon Legolas's entrance. "Have you word of Elmarin?" he asked, anxiously.
"Nay, I am the bearer of no news yet, Taranin, but I have not relinquished all hope. Where is my father?"
"He has retired to his study, I believe."
Legolas hurried off through the labyrinth of passageways to the king's private library. Without knocking, he burst into the room to see his father seated at the long, oak table, composing a letter. Legolas hastily approached him, his dripping hair accidently causing a spray of water to land upon the letter.
"Legolas! Now I must begin anew!"
"Father, to whom are you writing?"
"Elrond," the king replied, perturbed, pulling out another piece of parchment. "And truly, Legolas, please master the custom of knocking prior to entering."
"Father, do not do this!" Legolas cried in desperation.
Thranduil gazed up at his son with puzzled eyes. "You confuse me, Legolas. Why must I not write to Elrond?"
"Father, Mithryn must be confused...or doubtful of my veracity! Pray, do not write this letter for her! You cannot wish her to leave!"
Blinking, Thranduil responded: "I assure you, she has made no such request. This letter only solicits news of Mithrandir, of whom I worry greatly."
Outwardly, Legolas merely stood gaping; inwardly, he was condemning his own blatant conjecture, insecurity and lack of trust. "I am sorry, Father. It appears it is I who am confused."
"Yes, yes, I am not surprised at all, for you never change. If you seek Mithryn, she was last entertaining herself in the Archives."
Legolas exited quickly, stepping with light feet down the winding corridors to the Archives Chamber. Enormous bookshelves rose to the high, vaulted ceiling. Crumbling rolls of parchment, and ancient, cracked books filled the shelves. When Legolas stepped into the chamber, he saw Mithryn sitting in a chair, reading a book by flickering candlelight. "Mithryn," he called.
She looked up, and smiled. "Legolas! Why, you are soaked through! Is it raining, or did Haldof throw you in the river again?" she said, leaving the book open on the table.
A laugh escaped Legolas. "Nay, it rains. Mithryn, listen. You must come with me."
She rose, instantly concerned. "You are distressed; what has happened?"
"It is Elmarin. Please, you must come!"
As he led her through the maze of passages, he told her of Elmarin's difficulty. Her face contorted with trepidation and fright. "But Legolas, I am not a physician! I know nothing of delivering infants! What aid can you suppose I would be?"
"In truth, I know not," he said as they stepped outside and into the rain. They ran swiftly to the Elven tower where Elmarin resided, and climbed the exterior, spiraling stairs until, at last, they reached the landing and her door.
"Legolas, this is not my expertise. I do not wish to disappoint you, but I know not what to do."
"You could never disappoint me, Mithryn," he said, grasping her soaked arms. The rain began to lessen, now merely trickling down their faces. "Fewer Elves are brought now into the world than in the past. For Elmarin, there is a danger." He looked away, slightly embarrassed; it was not polite to speak of such things. "She has passed her time of childbearing, you understand. I know you may not be able to help, but please try. This is important to all of my people."
Mithryn gazed into his strong face. "I will do all within my power."
Embracing her, he kissed her lips, wet with rainwater. He knocked on the door, and shortly an Elf-matron answered, curtsying upon sight of the prince. "There is nothing new to report, Legolas."
"How does she fare?" he asked.
The lady glanced back into the room. "I fear her strength is waning," she whispered.
"Narbeleth, as you know, this is the Lady Mithryn. She may be of assistance as she is gifted in the art of healing."
Narbeleth opened wide the door. "Pray, enter and aid as you can."
Mithryn stepped in, and Narbeleth gently closed the door, leaving Legolas standing on the landing. The room was vast, with an open balcony; Elmarin lay, restlessly, in the massive bed. Three other midwives were present, all of whom wore crisp, white aprons. Narbeleth handed one to Mithryn as well as a towel to dry herself. "Thank you," she said, gratefully accepting. Approaching the bed, she sat upon a stool next to the weak Elf. Elmarin was much altered. Her face was white as snow; all energy and willpower seemed drained from her body. Her blue eyes opened at last when Mithryn held her warm hand.
"Mithryn, you are here? How wonderfully...cool...your touch is."
"Legolas felt I might be able to assist you in your time."
Elmarin breathed short breaths, face drawn and strained. "It has been many hours. I have no strength left," she whispered. She turned to Mithryn, blue eyes turning red with despondent tears. She struggled to find the energy to say the words in her heart. "I do not want to lose my child."
Mithryn's soul was deeply touched by the sight of her beauty, her pain and her hopelessness. Suddenly, all became clear to Mithryn. "Then I shall lend you my strength." While the wise healers gazed in curious wonder, Mithryn clenched her small fist, blew a breath of warm air upon it, and opened to reveal an orb of green flame. Slowly, she moved her hand until she was palm to palm with Elmarin's, clamped tightly together.
Elmarin's eyes opened wide with new vitality. She looked over at Mithryn to see her eyes closed, mind and body focused in purpose. Narbeleth lay upon the bed, feeling the child within. "It moves," she said excitedly. The child is much stronger now." A sharp pain shot through Elmarin's body; the contractions had begun again, but she was ever careful not to break this strange electrical connection between her and Mithryn.
"The child is ready," one of the midwives said, preparing the cloth and bringing forward a large basin of warm water and fresh towels, which she placed on the table nearby.
"I have strength now," Elmarin said, gratefully gazing upon Mithryn, who was sitting as motionless as a statue.
Legolas had not returned to the Elves waiting fretfully in the grand hall. Sitting on the step outside Elmarin's door, he lingered uneasily, hardly hearing the beautiful, quiet song filling the air which many Elven ladies sang in support of their struggling sister. The rain had stopped, and the sky opened to reveal the husky glow of sunset. Abruptly, Haldof, Tarnil and Galamed ran to the stairwell. "Legolas!" they cried. He rushed down to them.
"We are sorry, Legolas, but we could find no evidence of Mithryn's trail, and Anfalas is still in her stall," Tarnil explained.
"Nay, it is I who am sorry, brothers. I found her in the Archives. She is now with Elmarin."
Each of his brothers let out an annoyed huff. "We have been running all over the kingdom for you, and you did not have the intellect to send a messenger to us?!" Haldof blasted.
Legolas was about to reply that his mind had been full of other thoughts, when his answer was interrupted with the distinct, shrill cry from a newborn babe. All heated temperaments melted away in relief, and they embraced each other for the blessed event which had just occurred. "Tarnil, go and inform Father. Galamed, you must do the same to Taranin and the others," Legolas said, and they both dashed off, on merry missions. Legolas and Haldof stood, arms about each other's shoulders, gazing up at the terrace, delightfully anticipating another sign. Soon, iavin could be heard from every quarter sounding the joyful news.
Elves rushed from the halls, Taranin in front. He bolted up the winding stair, and was welcomed by Narbeleth who swung open the door for him. The exhilarated crowd waited in breathless anticipation, staring ever upward at the balcony which showed no movement. Suddenly, Taranin stepped into view, but his face bore definite signs of concern. "Legolas," he called down to him. "You should come," he said before once again disappearing from view. A prescient silence fell over the gathering. Legolas's heart beat wildly as he bounded up the steps and into the room. At first, there was nothing alarming to be seen; Elmarin was resting peacefully in the bed, two midwives were happily bathing the newborn, and, it then struck him, that Mithryn was nowhere to be seen. Taranin suddenly rose from the floor, and beckoned Legolas to his side. As he did so, he found Mithryn sprawled unconscious with Narbeleth beside her, bathing Mithryn's face with a cool, damp cloth.
"What happened to her?!" Legolas demanded, kneeling.
"She is drained of strength, but should recover soon," Narbeleth replied kindly, handing him the cloth and leaving him to tend Mithryn. Taranin comforted his weary wife with soft words, stroking her cheek and then poured her a glass of elven tonic to aid in her recovery.
Legolas cradled Mithryn's head on his lap; her lethargic eyes opened slowly. "I fainted," she said in a soft whisper.
He sighed a breath of relief. "You did. Think you can rise?" Legolas asked, apprehensively.
"I believe so," Mithryn said, sitting up. Fatigued and debilitated, she started to fall once more, but his strong arms were already there to catch her. "I feel a trifle lightheaded," she said while attempting to make the room stop spinning.
"I think you had better return to your cabin for rest," he said, helping her to her feet and holding tight so she would not fall. Nodding her reply, he began to walk her slowly out and carefully guided her down the steps. Curious onlookers gazed at the pair, but little was said. Their attention was quickly diverted when Taranin arrived upon the terrace, proudly carrying his small daughter, Finaviel. The gathering broke out into melodious song, welcoming the new member of their kindred. All wished to gaze upon the young life that was most felicitously brought to them. It had been many hundreds of years since a child was born into the kingdom, and when one arrived, it was always a sacred, mystical event, resulting in convivial celebration and ancient ritual ceremony to welcome their new relation into their fold. Legolas had borne Mithryn away, steadying her steps with his arm clasped firmly around her waist. Opening her cottage door, he led her inside and carefully set her upon the bed, ever mindful of propriety.
"Are you certain you are well? Shall I send for the healers? Perhaps some tonic? I do not believe you recovered yet."
"Nay," Mithryn pleaded, arms holding herself up. "Rest is all I require. I simply feel...a little...frail."
Legolas guiltily looked at her. "I am sorry. It was wrong of me to goad you into such a situation; I am responsible."
"Legolas," she said, fatigued, "I am pleased to have helped Elmarin. This languor occurs when I over strenuously use my abilities. Do not reproach yourself, I beg of you. I have a will of my own, you know."
Legolas smiled, but could see her weaken. "You comfort me, Mithryn, and I shall leave you now. Thank you again, for what you did; it was most noble."
Mithryn, however, did not hear, as she fell into a restful slumber on the bed. Legolas lovingly gazed at her momentarily and carefully placed a coverlet over her before quietly exiting and returned to the celebrations.
Author's Note: Please review and let me know what you think!
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.