(this one's very beta and I don't like it much, but it has potential if I can find a direction.)
I had never heard the saying that ignorance is bliss. Not until I had lost my ignorance already. But to die for ignorance? No. No matter how bitter, I would rather know.
I was a bitter young woman when I set out from my home town. I had not always been bitter. I was a sweet young thing once, as they call it. I was all sunshine and happiness when I married to my handsome young rogue, and a dashing figure he was then. He was an officer in the local militia, and very daring in skirmishes against the local brigands.
We had been married but one year when the calls came. I begged him to stay behind, to protect us from the brigands. He could have-- he could have applied to the headman for permission. Some men were left behind, to protect us. He could have stayed.
But he was bold and was determined to make his name in these great wars. He believed it all with shining eyes, all the stories they told of the rising glory of the East. He had sung the old songs about the glory of our ancestors, of the cruelty of the hard men of the West who drove our people across the Great River with slaughter to eke out our living on the bare steppes.
Our land was hard but I cannot complain about the comfort of my life, and even then I could not believe that things were so much better in the West that we should go and fight there. Why, those tales were hundreds of years old if they were a day, and whose memory is that long?
But go he would, and go he did. Of course he never came back. None of them came back, in any great numbers. Only enough to carry tales of the wrath and splendor of this great country in the West.
I went West eventually. It seems that while all the good men were slain, the brigands all survived to come back. It seems an unbelievable coincidence to me, that anyone good should be slain. Perhaps it was instead that any good in a man was slain, so that those who came back were utterly ruined. Something had been there, I knew, that held great evil, to warp men so. I thought it must be these grim, fell Westerners.
It was the brigands that drove me out of the village where I had lived my whole life. I fled in fear, with others, and as refugees we came to the border of a green land. Such was the darkness of that time that it seemed wise to us to flee towards the evil ourselves. Perhaps if we confronted it we too could be as ruined as the brigands who tormented us. I do not know.
But when we reached the West I woke from my ignorance. This is a green and fair land, where things grow and are glad. And I am still a bitter young woman, but the flavor of my bitterness has changed.
Shortly after we crossed into the green lands, I came face to face with the hard, grim, fell, evil men of the West, and I realized it was all a lie. Warriors they were, facing us, and their weapons were bright and sharp, but their eyes-- their eyes were as cool as their weapons, but cool with pity. These were men of wisdom and understanding.
And now that I understand their tongue I have heard their stories. And I know now. I know now that they lied to us. My dashing warrior went off with the stars in his eyes blinding him to the truth. And the evil that came back with the brigands was not of the making of the men of the West. It was of the making of the ones who took my husband. I am glad he died before I could see him infected with it, and that is the bitterness of my wisdom now.
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.