Authors Note: the poetry enclosed in this chapter is by Pablo Neruda, because my poetry sucks and his does not.
Join my yahoo group! Its at groups dot yahoo dot com slash group slash cinnamongrrl (you have to exchange actual dots and slashes where I wrote out the words, as ff.net seems to not want to allow links).
To those whove reviewed as per my request about the language: Thank you SO SO SO much! I have a degree in medieval studies so I was worried about hitting the proper balance between modern and archaic English. If I really wanted to punish both myself and my readers, I could write this whole damned thing in Chaucerian English, but then no one would know what the hell I was saying, kinda defeating the entire purpose of it.
But it mighte to causen the yees to achen, and myne readeres be of the fineste calibre a scribnere myght wisshe, soe I will foregoe any pretendytions to fayre Jeffrois stylinginges. Not weird enough for ya? I can always do it in Latin Vulgate or, even better, Old French. On voudrait-le meilleur, peut-estre? (taking a bow) Yes, ladies and gents, here then is the evidence of a truly useless education.
And now, my next task: Hows the humour? Too heavy-handed, just right? I know its been more serious the last few chapters without Naurė slicing-n-dicing with her wit. What if its actually not that funny at all, and Im the only one giggling like a loony at the stuff Im typing? Please tell me if Im not funny!
The Fall of Night, Part 15
4 February 3019
Lalaith is so completely obsessed with tending Rūmil that she would not notice if I were to dance on the table wearing naught but my quiver and a smile, so I know she will not notice that I have pilfered this journal from her pack and now sit in plain sight of her, scribing away like a lord. The grand flourishes which I append to the words even now cause the others to laugh, but will she notice?
No, she will not. Because she is feeding him soup. A great lot of soup, from a big cracked earthen bowl. The spoon itself is dented and quite disreputable, and Rūmil keeps trying to squirm away from it, but she chases his mouth expertlyshe must have some experience forcing porridge into reluctant children. When the bowl is finally empty, Rūmil breathes a premature sigh of relief. I say premature because Lalaith turns from him with the bowl, only to return with it brimming-full of more watery gruel.
The look on his face is such as will sustain me many a long, dark day in the future. Whenever I be sad, lonely, injured, or angry, I have only to remember Rūmil and his soup, and loudly shall I laugh. Mostly because I am heartily glad that it is he who suffers, and not me. Lalaith is a most formidable nurse, and I doubt I would be able to mount much of an offensive against her. She, of course, insists that the only reason she has not once left his side in four days is because of all the gratitude she bears him.
To which I say, hah.
One does not need to be a two thousand year old elf to comprehend the actions of a woman in love (but certainly, it helps). Even if she did not flutter around him like a concerned hen with an injured chick, we would know of her love for him. It was perfectly evident to us, you see, as she went quite mad when he was injured. Of course, he went just as mad when the orcs captured her, so it is equal between them, I think.
We others had been suspecting something between Rūmil and Lalaith for a while since their daring escape from the skirmish at the hut at the Great Bend, certainly. And their behaviour once they joined us once more merely served to cement our suspicions, for they were at the same time both carefully aloof and very familiar and comfortable with each other. Small gestures, quickly shared glances, the odd sigh here and there. We lot have not existed for millennia only to be rendered thoroughly stupid when in the presence of two people determined to pretend they feel nothing for each other.
It was only a matter of time before one or the other would do something that laid plain their feelings, and since Rūmil is, after all, an elf, I felt it would be Lalaith. I was wrong. Elbereth, I could not have been more wrong.
Rūmil decided that it was imprudent to retrace our steps along the Baranduin back to Bree, as that loutish king of Minhiriath would expect that, and so we made our way due east across the Plains of Cardalon, heading for Tharbad and Nīn-in-Eilph. This would, of course, bring us somewhat closer to Isengard, from whence came the orcs that have plagued us that last week, but he felt that since we could kill orcs easily, but not humans, best we should take the chance.
All went well until four days ago. We had met various smaller bands of orcs, and defeated them without incident. Aras is completely recovered now, and threw himself with vigor into the fighting, a joy to see. We had taken to traveling from the moment of suns rise until the moment of its setting, trying to go as far as we could, and then securing ourselves as best we might on that desolate, snow-covered grassland.
It was just a matter of time before a larger contingent of orcs attacked, and attack they did. They thought to overtake us while we slept, but Elrond chose wisely when he selected the elves for this journeythere are none of us fools, and we were not surprised. Valiantly we fought, and swift, but for every beast we slew it seemed there were two to take its place.
I began to fear for our ability to keep Lalaith safe, and I was not the only oneRūmils face was anxious, which is extraordinary. In the centuries I have known him, never before has it displayed that darker emotion. And yet, every time his harried glance fell upon her figure as she shrank back in terror, eyes darting in alarm at the carnage around her, his fear for her was as plain as if hed shouted it from a treetop.
Erźgmorn fought before Lalaith, and Aglar too-- one on each side of her, they exhausted their arrows before drawing daggers on their enemy, and soon the ground was piled with stinking corpses. I myself was back-to-back with Thalion, and Aras fought beside Rūmil himself. A deep groan of pain alerted us that one of our number had been injured, and we each followed the sound to its source: Aglar had received a wound in his shoulder, yet he fought on.
Rūmil was worried, however, and began to move his way toward them to add his might to that of Aglar and Erźgmorn. Too late he was, and Aglar was shoved out of the path to the orcs quarry. Grasping Lalaiths arm with brutal strength, the orc hauled her over the prone Aglar and dragged her into the midst of their malodorous ranks.
Rūmil gave a cry unlike any I have heard, and in a gesture of what I can only term breathtaking foolhardiness, charged lone against them. For a full minute he was wrath incarnate. Never have I seen a single elf commit such mayhem within seconds, he had felled two orcs and was grimly, single-mindedly cutting his way through their number to get to Lalaith. Covered in blood and offal, his fair hair streaming with it, he was almost close enough to take her hand and pull her to safety when yet another of the foul beasts slipped behind him and sent his crude weapon arcing toward Rūmils unprotected back.
His cry of anguish was matched only by Lalaiths scream, of fury or fear I know not, but I can still hear itshrill and terrible, the sound of a soul in torment. Rūmil fell right away to the ground, Lalaith dropping to his side as well, and the rest of us left off our individual battles and rallied round our captain, Thalion in particular laying waste to the enemy. And then suddenly there was another weapon raised to our cause.
Lalaith had taken up Rūmils daggers from his limp hands and was now wielding them with the frenzy of a true berserker. Unpracticed, clumsy, nevertheless she spotted the orc who had injured Rūmil and went about carving him into sections a butcher might have admired. Elves prize silken movement and practiced efficiency, but there is something indeed to be said for the inelegant passion of sheer rage. She was truly an unnerving sight.
Most frightening of all, she did it all with a smile on her blood- and tear-streaked face.
Undoubtedly, we would have prevailed in the end, but with Lalaith in her state of dementia it went much quicker than we expected, thanks more to the fright she caused the orcs than any actual fighting skill. When the last orc lay crumpled on the ground, the manic light left her eyes and she once more became the Lalaith we knew of old, and dropped the muck-laden daggers, falling to her knees at Rūmils side. With a tenderness that brought a suspicious moisture to even Thalions ancient and jaded eyes, she ascertained Rūmil still lived, and then set about ordering us what to do in a way that could make Elrond weep in jealousy, so officious was she.
We constructed a travois and bore him across the snowy plain with greatest haste, stopping neither to rest nor eat for almost two days. Lalaith dosed his injury liberally with the tonic she carried in a stout brown-glass flask in her pack, and the worried scrutiny she gives its dwindling contents tells me that there might not be enough to heal Rūmil completely.
When finally we arrived at Tharbad, Erźgmorn was sent to procure rooms for us at the sole inn. Rūmil was carried to one of these rooms, and Lalaith shut the door in our faces, saying she alone would tend him. We did not like to hear that, but the look on her face brooked no argument, so we indulged in the hot water brought for us to bathe, and then ate well for the first time since leaving Eryn Vorn.
She came out of the room hours later, swaying on her feet from exhaustion, and announced that while Rūmil was grievously injured, she believed he would survive. She had little of the tonic left however, and wondered how fared Aglarwould he need some, too?
Aglar was indeed wounded, and the tonic would have served him well, but Thalion spoke for all of us when he declared Aglar quite well enough to do without the tonic. Lalaiths relief was palpable; now there would be more for Rūmil. I entreated her to rest, to eat, but she would not. Finally I called for Aras, knowing him to be familiar with Lalaith after sharing a room with her at the Citadel, and sent him inside the room with a bowl of hot water and a soapy cloth.
When he exited some time later, he looked weary but announced she was clean whether she wanted to be or not. I do not know how he managed to scrub her, and do not think I want to, either. Rūmil slept for an entire day, and when he finally awoke his first word was, Lalaith? She took up his hand, clasping it to her, and promptly burst into tears. He has been awake now a full day, sleeping often (although I believe he pretends, if only to escape the soup). Both pretend that nothing extraordinary has happened; in fact, neither can meet the others eyes.
I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention how the rest of us feel about it. Thalion is scandalized at the notion of an elf being in love with a human, though he is far too dignified to speak his disdain aloud. Aras is genuinely concerned for them both, as it is evident that nothing good can come of it. Aglar could not possibly care less, as he is more concerned with his own healing, but even were he in perfect health I suspect it would not matter to himhe is ever a practical elf.
Erźgmorn is slightly put out, as I think he had designs of his own on pretty Lalaith (though somewhat more nefarious, I fear). Even I, Brethil, will admit that for a human, she is not distressing in appearancethough her face is plain compared to elven females, her hair too dark and eyes holding none of the starlight of the Eldar, and her figure neither as tall nor as graceful, there is a pleasing sense of resiliency and intelligence in her, and a warmth and caring in her eyes, that solves the mystery of Rūmils attraction for her.
As for the rest, they care not; their sole concern is doing their duty in returning Lalaith and the all-important athelas to Rivendell in one piece. And what of me? Well, I cannot say that I think it a good idea, exactly, but I will admit there is something thrilling about falling in love with someone so incredibly unsuitable.
Doomed love is so tragic, and yet so pure knowing that there is no future for them, and being unable to prevent the stirring of their hearts for the other. It is both altruistic, for there is nothing to be gained from it, and masochistic, for it is clear and obvious that only pain will be the outcome. Few choose a love like this; certainly, no one sane. I can only hope they will make the wisest possible choices in the coming days.
I will end my entry in this journal with a poem, hoping that my own sentiments for my beloved Melui might inspire dear Lalaith to be strong, and know that love is worthy of sacrifice.
I did not know what to say,
had no way with names.
My eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul
And I, drunk with the great starry void,
I felt myself a pure part of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke free on the open sky.
Entry made by Brethil Alagion of Rivendell on a boring night.
Please do not hit me, Lalaith. I hope you like the poem.
Do not worry so about Rūmil, many times have I tried to kill him and ever have I failed.
He will outlive us all.