3. Ch. 2: The Gardens of Imladris
Chapter 2: The Gardens of Imladris
They had been traveling at a northwesterly and slow pace for three days. Haraduien had eaten and gotten water when he needed it and slept in the eagles grasp when he wanted, but he was still afraid. Eruain had not woken. The eagles said it was the Dark Word of Sauron printed on her back that poisoned her. They had just finished a quick stop before taking off.
It was then he realized his eagle was swooping north. "What are you doing?" he yelled when he could no long trace the outline of the other eagle.
"I am taking you to Gondor where your mother wanted you to go. You must warn the Steward of Sauron's movement."
"But why is Eruain not coming with me?!"
"Alatar was very specific when she said that Eruain was to go to Imladris. Eruain needs Lord Elrond's healing. You are not to go with her. This was made clear."
"I am sorry, little Haradrim. We must obey the Istari."
"I am half-Istari! The other eagle said so!"
"You are not your mother." This kept Haraduien silent. He had left his people, his father, his mother, and now he had to leave his love. He could not change fate; he knew this. But it did not make the parting any less painful. He had schooled himself that by the time they arrived at Minas Tirith all his tears were dry; his only thoughts were the information he must share.
It was two days later that Eruain arrived into the care of Lord Elrond, master of Imladris.
"My lord," Elrond bowed deeply to the eagle as it delivered its package. He gently gathered Eruain in his arms, bidding farewell to the eagle. "Till our paths cross again, old friend." His Sindarin flowed gently and the eagle delighted in hearing it, pleased as it flew away.
"Ada?" A voice called from the shadows. She was intrigued by the coloring of the female her father carried. The young female's skin was much darker than she had ever seen. Her long black hair was a deeper, purer shade than that of the Evenstar's own. The Evenstar was slightly confused by the manner of dress the young female wore: see-through except in the most private places.
"Have Lhûn prepare a room. We have a guest of great importance." Elrond took Eruain to his chambers, leaving her be as he waited for her room to be ready. Lhûn entered with a deep bow and told him that the room was suitable. She offered to carry Eruain, but Elrond kindly dismissed Lhûn and carried her himself.
He set her down upon the silk sheets, removing her clothing to inspect her. He found nothing like her father had in the front, but when he turned her over, he was as shocked as Alatar was. He ran a calloused, gentle hand over the Tengwar, mouthing the words in Sindarin.
"That is curious," he heard a voice again, this time hearing the feet patter loudly as the hobbit approached. "That is a curious verse indeed, master Elrond. What do you think it means?"
"This woman is doomed… I have not yet foreseen what her role will yet be. But I am dubious in regards to her safety." Elrond try to ease Bilbo, smiling down at the hobbit as a grimace set firmly on his aging features. "Dear Bilbo, go rest, this matter is of little importance to you. I thought you had a book to write." Elrond chuckled at Bilbo's grinning face as he made to leave. "Do not concern yourself with this verse, dear hobbit. It is nothing." As Bilbo left, Elrond told himself that this matter was far from nothing.
Sitting down upon the edge of the bed, he closed his eyes and laid a hand upon her back, removed the poison from the script. It had been easy to remove and did not seem to cause his patient much harm other than forcing her into a long sleep. He clothed her again, kissing her forehead. "Abi," she moaned as she felt his lips.
"You will rest fine tonight, little one. In the morning, you will find yourself in an unfamiliar place, but you are welcome here. You shall find solace here, young one. I fear for you. I do fear for you." Elrond left her chambers, assigning a guard to her room. When He spoils the Sun…
The soft singing of the birds awoke Eruain from her slumber. The morning sun glowed dimly through trees she had never seen before. Her bedroom, spacious and beautiful, was made from a rock unfamiliar and she could hear the wonderful sound of water rush in the distance. This is not Harad.
Moving to explore her new surroundings, she rolled over in her bed. The sheets were cool and the bed soft. Where am I? She never heard the footsteps of the Evenstar nor saw her enter. "Blessed morn to you, Haradrim," her Sindarin words were spoken low and soft. Eruain whipped her head to the direction of her voice, eyes narrowing in concentration. "I have heard of your people. Some say your minds and hearts are as dark as your skin. Although, I must say, I am not one to judge from rumors or first appearances."
"Silentwalker, you speak words unknown to me," Eruain kept still, very still like a statute. She was waiting for the Evenstar to make a threatening move. "Speak in words that I can comprehend."
"Do you only speak the language of the Haradrim?" The Evenstar was surprised. Her father had told her that Alatar would be wiser than to just teach her daughter one language. Nevertheless, Arwen persevered and wished to be understood. Motioning with her hands she asked, "Do you hurt?" She made a demonstration of putting her hand to her head and wincing.
Eruain frowned at her display. She could not understand what the Evenstar was saying other than something about hurting. She pointed to herself at which the Evenstar nodded. Shaking her head, Eruain replied, "No." But her back ached slightly, making her wince and giving her away.
Arwen moved silently as if she floated across the floor. Eruain eyed her warily as the Evenstar picked up a wet cloth and motioned for her to turn around in order to cool Eruain's burning skin upon her back. She did not move and so Arwen went to take it upon herself to move Eruain at which Eruain, caught her swiftly by the base of her neck.
"My daughter, I do not think she trusts you so." Elrond stood in the doorway, trying to hide his smile. Turning to Eruain, he spoke quickly in Haradaic, wishing that she would release his daughter. "Speak in Quenya and she shall understand you better, little one."
Taking his suggestion, she released the Evenstar and spoke in hesitant Quenya, "What are you doing, Silentwalker?"
"I wish to relieve you of pain from the burning script that appears on your back."
"How do I know you will not murder me whilst my back is turned?"
This is where Elrond broke the conversation once more. "Your mother, Alatar, trusts us enough to keep you safe from Sauron. I wish you will put the same trust in us as she does. We will not let harm come to you, little one."
Eruain cautiously turned her back to Arwen, who pushed the fabric that covered Eruain's back out of the way to gain access to the burning flesh. Gingerly, she put the wet cloth against the script that was still inflamed. Eruain gasped, slightly in pain, but was calmed by the soft-spoken words of Arwen, who tried to reassure her in Sindarin. Eruain cocked her head towards Elrond, asking in Haradaic, "Where am I, Silentwalker?"
"In Rivendell or known to some as Imladris, the Last Homely House East of the Sea." Elrond, filled with pride, smiled at Eruain, telling her, "I am Elrond, Lord of Imladris and this is my daughter, Arwen Undómiel, the Evenstar of our people. What are you called?"
She answered, proud as Elrond, "I am Eruain Bintsuladân, daughter of Alatar and I am the Shamsa of Harad."
Elrond looked confused with her title. "What is the Shamsa of Harad?"
"Shams means Sun and it is the name of our Sun god. I am Shamsa, High-priestess of Shams."
"You hold power?"
"I am second authority in Harad; my father is the first, being Malikun…" Elrond's gaze had become perplexed once more and so she clarified in Quenya, "ah, royalty… king."
"You are the princess?" Arwen understood 'king'. She finished washing Eruain's back and draped the see-through cloth over her back once more.
Switching to Quenya, she answered, "Yes. This marks me as so." Eruain lifted the hem of her skirt to her knees where they could see a tattoo of a red-eyed black snake coiled up her left leg. Its open mouth with its teeth bared rested open the top of her foot and Elrond and Arwen dare not imagine where the tattoo stopped for it looked as if it wound its way far up. "That is the mark of Af'aa, my clan. Only the Malikun and the Shamsa wear it." Turning her right wrist over, she showed them the tattoo of a pale yellow sun. "This is the Shamsa seal. At birth, Malikun offers his daughter to Shams and if Shams approves, Malikun binds his daughter to Shams and she becomes the Shamsa."
"You wear strange paint. You distort your image that Ilúvatar has given you. Why?" Arwen could not understand why someone could taint his or her body with permanent paint, adding to Ilúvatar's image.
"It is just the custom of my culture," Eruain replied, slightly offended, eyes flaring with certain coldness. "When we take mates, we receive more tattoos, especially the women. If I marry a Haradrim, I will wear more tattoos than most women will. The men tattoo themselves as they please, but women wear only the marks that their fathers or husbands ask them to wear." Looking over to Arwen, judging the Evenstar's infinite beauty, she smirked. "If you had tattoos here," she pointed to the Evenstar's torso and thighs, "any man would want you, not just Haradrim." The Evenstar glanced at her father, eyes wide with uncertainty.
Elrond motioned for Arwen to leave and she got up, saying, "May your love never dim, Ada. Na lû." Eruain watched her depart, glaring at the fact she could not, for the life of her, hear the Evenstar's footsteps.
Elrond sat beside Eruain, taking her hand, bringing her back from her gaze. She looked him in the eyes, hard and long, trying to discern anything and found nothing. "Are you unhappy here, little one?"
She was not one to mince words or lie if it wasn't appropriate. "Yes. I am unhappy."
Not getting a reason for her unhappiness, Elrond pressed on, "May I inquire why?"
"Why do you think, Lord Silentwalker? I am a lone Haradrim, far from Harad, far from my people, my home and my family. I know no one here and you speak a language unfamiliar to me. You dress so strangely and have such pale skin; you are like ghosts. I have no reason to trust you, but I shall for Ammë does." She put a hand to her face in despair, "I want Abi."
Elrond wrapped his arms around her, his long sleeves draping over her. He hugged her to his chest and she complied, wanting the love of a father. "I may not be your Ab, but am Ab of three tiflaat. I understand your hurt and I am sure your Ab and Om hurt at your parting. Eruain…little Eruain, you will find your calling in Imladris just as you had in Harad. My people will welcome you. Please, we do not wish unhappiness upon you." He held her away so that he could see if she was comforted. "Besides the least of your worries is your happiness. I think you shall find a certain companion that will have your full attention." He stood, motioning with an arm, "Come, I shall introduce you."
"Elrond, dear one."
"Lord Elrond, your daughter, she… do not misunderstand me, she did not look upon me with disgust, but I could tell she disapproved. Perhaps, I should dress accordingly with the customs of Imladris."
"If you wish. I will call Lhûn to get you some dresses you may wear." He exited, leaving Eruain alone once more.
She reached to her face, feeling the black paint upon smear from her tears. "I forsake you, Harad." She took the cloth and removed all of the ceremonial paint upon her face. She stripped her arms and legs of golden bracelets. "I forsake you, Harad." She gently parted the gossamer cloth that covered her, discarding it upon the ground. "I forsake you, Harad." She took out her dangling earrings and pulled off every ring upon her fingers. "I forsake you, Harad." She removed the golden and wood trinkets in her hair, along with the feathers and shell beads. "I forsake you, Harad." Her tears were coming down like a storm as she dropped to her knees. She fingered the long, dangling ornament that was pierced upon her navel. She could not bring herself to part with the gift from Shams. It was made from the purest gold and held the largest ruby in the world at the bottom of its chain. "I forsake you, Harad, but I cannot forsake Shams."
"Eruain," Elrond knocked softly upon the door. He stepped inside and found her upon the ground, weeping. He rushed to her side. "What is wrong, little one?"
"It is nothing, Lord Elrond. I am just remembering Harad." He glanced at the piles of jewelry that lay beside her, picking up a bracelet in the shape of a serpent. She saw him eying her gold and responded quickly, "That is nothing as well, Lord Elrond."
"Nothing is ever just nothing. These are important to you. Why else would you wear these? Eruain, you are not casting off your culture because you are our prisoner. You neither have to rid yourself of Harad nor are you our captive. You don't even have dress in our fashion."
"This is for the best, Lord Elrond." She pulled a white dress with a pale yellow trim from his arms. "If you could excuse me…" He got up and left again, silent as he came. She pulled the cotton dress on, taking note about how much heavier it was that her gossamer. The sleeves were long and brushed against the ground. This is going to be impossible to move in. Soon enough she was ready. She walked out of her room, spying a woman not far from her room.
She came up to her, speaking Quenya, "Excuse me, where is Lord Elrond?"
The woman just walked away from her as if she was not there. Maybe she doesn't understand Quenya. Not bothering to follow the elf, she went down the opposite path that led her in a winding fashion into a large banquet room. It was empty and she could feel the vibrations of her footsteps bounce off the walls. Across the hall, there was a large feasting table. At the head of the table, a man draped himself across the largest chair, one meant for Elrond.
Just as before, she approached, asking in Quenya, "Excuse me, where is Lord Elrond?"
The man turned, a smile dancing upon his face. He replied in Quenya easily, "Lord Elrond has asked me to be your escort." He stood, bowing low to the ground, eyes twinkling in amusement. "I am Elladan, son of Elrond, brother of Elrohir and Arwen Undómiel."
Eruain, unsure with the new Silentwalker, examined him hesitantly, "What is it that he would have us do, Lord Elladan?"
He laughed aloud, "What would he – Who cares, Eruain? Here is an important lesson: do what life wants you to do, not what stuffy old men want. Live life like you're dying."
"You speak traitorous words, Silentwalker. You would be left in a cage in the desert if you were in Harad." Her eyes narrowed at Elladan's comments. Where had she heard speaking like that? Haraduien, he mind reminded her. It made her smile softly, but she hid it quick, not wanting the Silentwalker to see.
"Then I am glad I am not in Harad. Now tell me, why did you call me Silentwalker? I can handle Lord Elladan, in fact I would love it if you called me that always, but why Silentwalker?"
"I cannot hear you walk upon the ground." Humiliation flooded her face; she could feel her cheeks burning.
"Not many can hear the footsteps of Elves, not even Elves themselves. Your ears must be quick to hear our footsteps. But yours," he scoffed, "I could hear you breathe from down that hallway."
"You're an elf?" The stories her mother told her were true. Eruain had always liked the stories about Elves; they were her favorites. Now she had met four! What she could tell to the people of Harad! She grew even redder with a thought. "Could I see… could I see your ears?"
He grinned and brushed back his hair, exposing his flesh. "Pointed as told in stories, little Noisywalker." She grimaced at his new nickname for her. "Don't like that one? How about 'Dark beauty'? For that is what you are, my Dark beauty." His eyes flashed in interest, but it almost seemed as if he was teasing.
"I'd prefer you just call me Eruain. However, if you must call me anything, call me Shamsa. That is my title." She looked away, unable to show the same pride she had shown to Elrond.
He moved so that he was once again within her vision. "And my title is Silentwalker?"
"That is… no, it is not, my lord."
"I see." They lapsed into silence, one that felt like eternity. No longer being able to take it, Elladan took her hand and commanded, "Come."
She complied for she had nothing else to do. Once or twice, she tripped on the hem of her dress, but did not fall because Elladan caught her each time. She was beginning to wonder if all of Rivendell was just twisting corridors when beautiful sunlight beamed down upon her. She reveled in its rays and said a quick prayer to Shams. Then it was that she saw them: the gardens of Imladris. She had never seen so many green things, so many flowers. Laughing, she smiled up at Elladan. "It's beautiful!"
He let go of her hand and allowed her to run to some daffodils, opened in praise to the sun. "They delight in Shams' glory! Where I am from, Shams is cruel to everything. There is no such green. We are lucky if we get any harvest at all. But here," her eyes almost watered at the sight, "you could feed all of Harad."
"No, I do not think so, Eruain. You cannot eat these plants. They're just for show." He saw her as a little kid as she stared wide-eyed at the gardens, taken by their splendor.
"But if you can have non-edible plants, can't you also have edible?! We could feed so many!" It was then that jealousy hit her. "But you, you keep fertile lands to yourselves! You wish for Harad to perish! You see us as corrupt as the Dark One! Liars!" She gathered her skirt and ran from him, but it was in vain, for he was quicker and unemotional.
His hand snaked around her upper arm, grasping it tightly enough so that she could not move away, but not so tightly that it hurt. The anger that flared within his eyes matched hers. "Do not think us as enemies, Haradrim. We would provide if it was possible, but food will rot. The House of Elrond does not see you in league with Sauron, nor are we liars."
"How can you tell me you do not see us in league with Sauron, when my own people are joining his armies? The Dhe'b have joined and the night before I left, a foul creature of the Dark asked my father to join Sauron. If the Af'aa joins Sauron, all of Harad will be behind my father's banner." Her face contorted as she fought to keep back tears. "Abi said he would never join Sauron, but he might. Ammë said that Abi is swayed not by gold but by love. He loves Ammë, but she lied to him. Abi loves me, but I am now at risk. He might see that the only way he can save me is if he joins Sauron and tries to persuade him." Tears now came. "It will not work. Sauron is too powerful."
"Have you told my father this?"
"No. But there is more important news: Sauron has found Isildur's Bane." At her words, he fled, moving quickly and silently towards his father's room. It was something more important than anything in the world.
"You know, many do not speak Quenya any longer," a strange, small and old man hobbled up to her. Eavesdropper, she scowled. He wore no shoes for his feet were great in size and hairy beyond belief. His Quenya was adequate and raspy.
Turning to him, she asked, "What do they speak then?"
"Sindarin and Silvan and Westron… a myriad of languages, young one." He hopped up on the bench next to her, eager to relieve his joints. He patted the spot beside him, willing her to join him. As she sat down next to him, he smiled pleasantly, "By the way, I am Bilbo Baggins."
"Pleased to meet you, Lord Bilbo. I am Eruain Bintsuladân." She returned the smile and said, "If you don't mind me saying, but you do not look like an elf."
"That is because I am not, Lady Eruain. I am a Hobbit."
"Are all Hobbits like you?"
"For the most part. Now, Lord Elrond has told me that you do not know Sindarin. Lord Elladan, Lord Elrohir, and Lady Arwen have all offered to teach you, but Lord Elladan and Lord Elrohir are often gone and Lady Arwen spends many a day tending to her people. So in the off chance that all the others are busy, I am to be your teacher."
"That is kind of you, Lord Bilbo, but I do not think I should consume anyone else's time…"
"Truly, I have nothing better to do than revise my book." His joyous face reminded her of Haraduien when they were kids. That boy always had a smile on his face. "And I don't particularly wish to do that since that is all I ever do."
"Well, to spare you of that task I will be your pupil when everyone else is busy." She saw him get up and motion her to follow his lead. She stood, "What is it, Lord Bilbo?"
"Tea time! You must join me for some tea. I will tell you about all of my adventures. I haven't told anyone in a long time, Lady Eruain, and I am sure that look in your eye tells me that you yearn for knowledge."
It was much later that day that she came from Bilbo's room, eyes gleaming with the passion of knowledge and history. Shams was behind the trees now, leaving a faint, glimmering light that brought forth from her a new love for it. The trees were a personal heaven for her and she almost lost herself staring at their wonder.
Leaning out the window, she brought in the smells of Lord Elrond's gardens, praising Shams for the life. Sighing heavily, she thought back on her day and found it was filled with numerous ups and downs. Emotions were high and loneliness soared high with it as well. She could not stop thinking about Harad.
As if he could read her mind, Elladan said, "It is to be expected."
"What is," she asked incredulously.
"Sorrow. Homesickness." He saw her eyes go wide and rushed to ease her bewilderment. "Those emotions are radiating off of you. You do not hide your emotions like elves do and I can sense them as clearly as I can hear you breathe."
"That is a little disturbing. I do not wish that I was so open." She hung her head. "Lord Elladan, do you have no sand?"
"There is no sand here in Imladris. I dare say you will not find much sand anywhere, except maybe on the beaches of the West." He leaned on the wall next to her. "Is it something you miss?"
"I miss the feeling of it between my toes," she admitted shyly.
"I might have something you'd enjoy. Come," he led her to the gardens. As they arrived near the brook that babbled through the gardens, he took his shoes off, wiggling his toes in the grass. "Go on take them off!"
She pulled off her shoes and nestled her toes in the cool, damp grass. With an urge, she dropped to her knees and put her face to it, smelling the rich aroma of the earth. She lay down, fiddling with the blades of grass, not paying any attention to Elladan at all.
He sat down, scanning her body. From the description of her clothes that Lhûn and Arwen had provided, he found that he missed something good. He had always taken an interest in the pretty ones, courting them, but always cutting off the relationships before they got too serious. He knew that if he courted Eruain, it would not last. And he was sorry for her if she took a notice to him.
"Lord Elladan," she breathed the earth in heavily as if it was a drug, "thank you." Then an idea occurred to her. "Do you swim, my lord?" She stood, removing the outer dress, leaving just the thin, white underdress on.
"Eruain!" he shrieked at her nudity.
"What? I didn't take it all off!" She started to wade in the water.
Indeed, she hadn't, but it seemed to him that she had. Once she soaked for a bit in the water, the dress would become see-through. "If you get that wet, it'll be like you have taken everything off!"
"Stop being a worry wart. Get in! Join me." She lured him with her voice and soon he was wading, half dressed in the brook. He only wished no one could see them. But he could feel the disapproving stares of the guard elves and one from his father. He was brought back by a splash in his face and a howl of laughter. "I could never do this back home! Water was too precious."
He grabbed her and dunked her so that the water fully engulfed her. He brought her up, spluttering and glaring. "What?" he asked coyly.
"I could have drowned! I can't swim well!" She went to pull him under, but he stayed strong under her strength. She shrieked delightfully in defeat, and proceeded to push hard on his shoulders, only bringing her face to face with him. His arms circled around her, holding her above the deepening water. "What…"
He pulled her down with him, watching her shake in surprise and fear but settle in his arms. He could not help but look at her see-through dress, cursing his indecency to look. Coming back up, he breathed with her and grinned down upon her. "Water is life. But it can take it away too."
She clung closely to him, not wishing to drown in the deep water. She was sure he could hear her blood pulse quickly and that his ears were filled with the deafening sound of her breathing. "My lord?" She was confused as he smelled the air in front of her and then along her neck. "Elladan?" She blushed.
"You smell of fragrant oil, honey, and earth. Are these the smells of Harad?"
"Yes. It is custom to bathe with aromatic oil, honey and water. The earth is your garden probably." She grinned and smelled him the same way. She held her nose and made a disgusted face, pulling back. "You smell gross."
"Do I now?" He dunked her again.
It was not long after Shams had completely left the sky that they exited the brook. They had dressed again, and were off to dry before the feast that Elrond was preparing in her name. Elladan had told her that her arrival would be out-shadowed by her news of Sauron and the finding of Isildur's bane. He knew the world was about to change.
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.