‘Celinn,’ he said softly, but Celinn did not stir. Slowly he stretched out his good arm and rested his fingertips gently on Celinn’s shoulder. Celinn leapt as if he had touched him with a burning brand.
‘Don’t touch me,’ he said in a hoarse emotionless voice that Aragorn did not recognise, and then his eyes came to rest on Aragorn’s face. It seemed to take him a long time to identify him, but at last he dragged himself up with an effort so that he was half-sitting against the pillows, having made it clear without a word that he did not welcome Aragorn’s help.
‘How fare you, Celinn?’ said Aragorn, horrified by his devastated appearance.
‘Why does everyone…keep asking me that?’ said Celinn with difficulty.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Aragorn, ashamed.
Celinn said nothing, gazing with unfocussed eyes over Aragorn’s shoulder.
‘I…thought you might like to know…we found him,’ said Aragorn.
Celinn lifted his eyes slowly to Aragorn’s face.
‘Who?’ he said, a mere breath.
‘Him. Madoc. Adanwath.’
A shadow seemed to pass swiftly across Celinn’s face, but apart from that he seemed unmoved by Aragorn’s words.
‘He’s dead, Celinn,’ he said, trying to keep him voice calm. ‘I…passed the sentence on him, as is my right and duty. Haldir…fired the arrow that killed him, to avenge what he did to you. But I…I sent him to his death.’
Celinn continued to gaze at him without emotion, but at last he said softly, with a shadow of his former spirit,
‘You showed courage, Aragorn.’
At that moment Galadriel came to the door of the room, but at the sight of Aragorn and Celinn in conversation, she paused on the threshold.
‘No,’ said Aragorn, grimly. ‘You were the one who showed courage, Celinn. I was the one who led you into danger through my foolishness. I am sorry, Celinn.’ His voice broke, but he mastered himself with a fierce struggle. ‘I am more sorry for what has happened than for anything else in my whole life,’ he whispered. ‘My dear friend, I hope his death helps to heal your suffering. He is gone from the face of Arda. You can turn away from the harm that he did to you, and become whole again. My fath…foster-father will help you, if you go to him at Imladris. I will come with you if you like.’
Celinn looked at him calmly. ‘Your heart is generous, Aragorn,’ he said softly.
‘I am so glad to see you better,’ said Aragorn, pulling a chair to Celinn’s bedside and sitting down. ‘When I first saw you, I…’ He stopped abruptly, unable to go on.
Celinn gazed at him sadly, taking in the tight binding securing his arm across his chest. ‘You are hurt, Aragorn. Go, rest now.’
‘No, I…I would like to stay with you for a while.’
Celinn sighed deeply and sank down against the pillows, his eyelids drooping. There was a long silence, then Aragorn said,
‘When do you think you will be well again, Celinn? There is so much I still want to learn from you.’
Celinn glanced at him, then away again, but he did not answer him.
‘Of course, I suppose it is too soon to say,’ said Aragorn. My fath… foster-father always said I was too impatient. Maybe by the fire festival, you will be healed.’ Aragorn shifted a little in his chair as his shoulder began to ache again. ‘I hope you will come to Imladris with me one day, to celebrate a festival with us. It is strange to think you have been there so many times, before I was there myself.’
Celinn’s eyes were closed, but he did not seem to be asleep.
‘Celinn?’ whispered Aragorn, suddenly sensing something in Celinn’s silence. ‘You…you will be well again, won’t you?’
Celinn opened his eyes and looked at him, and Aragorn’s heart missed a beat.
‘But…you are already better, aren’t you? Before you weren’t even awake, and now…’
‘Aragorn,’ Celinn said softly. ‘Go and rest now.’
‘No!’ cried Aragorn. Celinn gave a grimace of pain and closed his eyes.
‘I’m sorry, Celinn, I’m sorry, but…I must know. What is it you won’t say to me?’
‘It is…nothing, Aragorn. You have been…brave and…true. Go now, rest.’
Aragorn’s shoulder was aching fiercely, and he laid his hand on it to comfort himself.
‘Is it…because of what he…did he…do something…change something…in you?’
‘It is…no matter, Aragorn,’ whispered Celinn.
‘No, Celinn, it matters a great deal,’ insisted Aragorn. ‘Please, I am to blame for what happened, I must know. Tell me what has happened!’
There was a long, taut silence. At last Celinn said softly,
‘You are not…to blame, Aragorn. I…did not want to come back.’
‘But you are back now, Celinn,’ said Aragorn, his voice shaking.
‘But I…may not be able to stay,’ said Celinn very gently. ‘Not after…after…’ His voice faltered and died.
Aragorn slowly bent his head so that Celinn could not see his face, and his heart shook within him.
‘There must be a way,’ he whispered, but Celinn did not answer, and when Aragorn at last was able to lift his head he saw that Celinn’s eyes were closed and his palms upturned on the white sheets. Aragorn leaned forward until his brow was resting on the edge of Celinn’s bed, and the few difficult tears which he wept soaked into the linen which he had crumpled in his hands.
Celeborn found Galadriel sitting in the corner of their bedchamber, clutching an ivory silk handkerchief embroidered with green leaves. It was so rare for him to find her weeping that for a moment he feared some terrible calamity had occurred, but as he held her close, her body spoke of the wounds of love rather than catastrophe.
‘Tell me, my Galadriel,’ he said gently, rocking her in his arms.
‘It is Celinn,’ she said. ‘And Aragorn. I saw them, talking together. How will they bear their sorrow? I fear there is nothing I can do to help them.’
Celeborn stroked her hair, murmuring meaningless words into her ear. She clung to him, talking and weeping silently in turns.
‘Celinn told him…he might not heal from the hurt that was done to him…and…and Aragorn did not understand. He…thought Adanwath’s death would bring an end to what has happened…he does not understand what it means to us to be…to be…’
‘Hush, my beloved,’ said Celeborn. ‘You do not need to endure all things.’
‘How can I stand by and watch them both, so fine and brave, so gentle, their friendship barely beginning… how beautiful Celinn was at has braiding! And now all is destroyed! How I hate the wickedness that has done this to them, my Silver Tree! But it seems I am helpless against it.’
‘You are far from helpless, my dearest Galadriel.’
‘But this is a very great evil, Celeborn. And it is here, in Lorien itself. The darkness can not be kept out, even if it cannot flourish within our fences.’
Celeborn kissed her gently. ‘My beloved, we have known much evil in our long lives, and even the darkest evil has light in its weave. Do not let hope fail in your heart, for only then has evil overcome the light.’
Galadriel wept again, but at last she had spent all her tears, and rested against Celeborn. He lifted her in his arms and, laying her on the bed, slipped off her shoes and drew the bedclothes over her.
‘Do not leave me,’ she said, stretching out her arms to him.
‘I have no intention of leaving you,’ he said, and removing his long velvet robe, slid between the sheets beside her and held her tightly.
‘I am weak, Celeborn,’ she said. ‘I should not have lost hope.’
‘No, you are strong,’ he whispered. ‘And it is because your heart is open that you can work the magic that keeps Lorien safe.’
Galadriel sighed deeply then and he felt her relax against him. His hand stroked her cheek gently and his mouth sought hers, but her breathing was soft and regular, and in the same moment that desire began to stir in him, he looked down into her face and saw that she was asleep.
The door to Aragorn’s room was ajar and he thought he saw a stir of movement inside as he pushed it open, but he was so deep in melancholy that it was only when a tall dark-haired figure rose from the chair by the bed and turned to him that he came to himself. Even so it took several seconds before he was able to believe what his eyes were telling him; that his brothers Elladan and Elrohir had come, and were here in the room with him, now, in this very moment, and that their arms were round him, holding him close and safe.
‘Estel, it was pure chance that brought us here,’ said Elladan, when Aragorn was stretched out on the bed with his brothers sitting one on either side of him. ‘We crossed the mountains several weeks ago, and since we were near Lorien we thought to come and visit you.’
‘Little did we guess what we would find,’ said Elrohir, his grey eyes fixed on his brother’s face.
‘I am…very glad to see you,’ said Aragorn, his voice shaking a little.
‘As we are to see you, tithen muindor,’ said Elladan. ‘Haldir told us you found a way to infiltrate a band of outlaws: so our years of training you have not been wasted!’
Aragorn sighed and closed his eyes for a moment.
‘Please, let us not speak of that now,’ he said wearily.
‘Estel, are you passing up an opportunity to describe your moment of glory?’ said Elladan. ‘Tell us everything!’
‘What glory? I was blind and foolish!’ said Aragorn, suddenly loud and harsh. His brothers stared at him, surprised.
‘Tell us, Estel,’ said Elrohir at last, in a quite different voice from the one Elladan had used.
Aragorn bowed his head and speaking with some difficulty, told them the whole story from when he joined the outlaws to his last conversation with Celinn. It took him a long time and when he had finished there was a long silence. As he told the story, Elladan and Elrohir had each taken one of his hands, and now Elrohir reached over for Elladan’s also. Aragorn looked at the circle they made, strong and unbreakable, and all at once he felt he did not deserve such comfort while Celinn suffered so much, and he wrenched his hands away from his brothers’.
‘Estel!’ cried Elrohir, reaching out for him, but Elladan held him back, shaking his head. They watched him in silence as he sat, head bowed, his dark untidy hair hiding his face. At last Aragorn said, quietly,
‘I don’t know what to do to help him. He was so lively, so beautiful, and now, because of the evil that has been done to him, he does not know whether he can remain in life…What can I do? What is there to say in the face of such evil?’
‘There is nothing to say,’ said Elrohir, his strong sharp face close to Aragorn’s. ‘We have seen what evil can do, and there are no words to express the depth of what we feel when it touches us. All we can do is survive it, and go on without letting our hearts die.’
‘I do not know if I can bear it,’ said Aragorn, his voice trembling. ‘To see such wanton destruction has broken something in myself also, and not just my body. Even Adanwath’s death seems of little consequence while Celinn continues to suffer because of what he did to him.’
‘Estel, if he looks for it, he may find a way to heal.’
‘But he does not look for it. That is part of what Adanwath did to him.’
‘You must not despair,’ said Elladan. ‘We are with you, and we will help you to bear this sorrow, and in time you will learn to endure it. It is the risk of opening our hearts; but we cannot live without love, brother, or life would be truly desperate.’
‘We know this pain, Estel, from the time when our mother was lost to us,’ said Elrohir, quietly. ‘Then we thought we could not endure it; that we would surely perish from grief.’
‘But we are here, many hundreds of years later,’ said Elladan, ‘and still there is joy in life.’
‘It is just…I did not know it would be so difficult,’ said Aragorn. ‘When ada…when he told me my true name, I never dreamed it would be so hard to bear it. I thought everything was clear: on one side stands goodness, and I choose that side; and on the other stands evil and darkness, and I reject it. But…it is not as simple as that. I wished to do only good, and I gave myself fully to the task, even though I was afraid at first. But great harm came out of it, and continues even now. And I did not know how it would feel to…to take a man’s life coldly, for the sake of justice, rather than in the heat of battle.’ His face was suddenly very bleak.
‘It is not clear at all, is it?’ he said.
‘No, my dear brother,’ said Elrohir. ‘It is not. But you are forgetting something. It was not you who brought harm on your comrades. It was the enemy.’
‘But it was my fault, Elrohir! Degil told me not to try to join the outlaws, but I wouldn’t listen to him! I thought being Isildur’s heir meant doing something…something great and unusual and daring…but he was right, I was too rash, and instead of caring for those I am meant to protect, I dragged them into my own danger, and some of them are being broken by that evil, here in Lorien, in the Golden Wood that the Lady protects from the shadow of darkness. I should never have come here. How will I ever repay the debt I owe them now?’
Elrohir glanced at Elladan and saw him nod.
‘There is something we could do, all three of us,’ said Elrohir gently. ‘If you wish it, we could offer ourselves to the service of Lorien for a time, say for forty days. There are many orcs breeding under the mountains: we could clear out many of their dens in that time.’
A flicker of hope crossed Aragorn’s face. ‘You would stay with me, while we did this?’ he said.
‘Yes, if you wished it, little brother,’ said Elrohir.
‘I have missed you both since I left Imladris,’ said Aragorn. ‘I thought I would not see you again for a long time.’
‘Well, we are here now,’ said Elladan, ‘and I am weary.’ He stood up and began to remove his clothes. ‘How fortunate the beds in the healing house are so generously made,’ he said, and wearing only his breeches, slid beneath the bedclothes beside Aragorn.
‘Where am I going to sleep?’ said Elrohir.
‘Estel has grown quite thin with all his adventuring,’ said Elladan. ‘There is plenty of room in here with us.’
A few moments later Aragorn found himself comfortably settled between his two brothers.
‘Shall I blow out the candle, Estel, or are you still scared of the dark?’ asked Elladan.
Aragorn dug his elbow into his foster brother’s side.
‘Ai!’ cried Elladan. ‘Now that was unwise, Estel, considering how fragile you are at the moment,’ and he reached out to tickle him. Aragorn cried out in genuine pain, and Elrohir said, his voice slurring a little as he drifted towards sleep,
‘Leave him be, Elladan! Remember how you were after you fell down that cliff at home? You wouldn’t even let ada touch you, let alone tickle you.’
Elladan blew out the candle. ‘I promise not to hurt you, Estel. All right, Elrohir?’
‘Mmm,’ said Elrohir, drowsily.
They fell silent then, and Aragorn lay still, listening to his brothers’ steady breathing. Each of them had thrown an arm across him and their hands were linked on his chest. His shoulder had begun to ache again and he didn’t know how he was going to turn over when it got too painful to endure, but having his brothers here was such an unbelievable comfort that he hardly cared.
After a while the heat from his brothers’ bodies began to warm him, and the ache in his shoulder started to subside. He had not realised how cold he had been these last months without them, and as they slept beside him and he too drifted into sleep, it began to seem as if it might be possible to fulfil the task he was born to do, if only he could have them sometimes by his side.
Later that night Helevorn stoked the fire in Celinn’s room.
‘I think there will be a frost again tonight,’ he said, looking out of the window at the deep blue sky. ‘I hope my plants will survive it.’
He turned to Celinn. ‘Are you warm enough, Celinn?’
Celinn nodded his head listlessly. Helevorn went out of the room to fetch some more wood and met Gwirith standing outside in the hallway.
‘How do you think he is?’ Helevorn asked him.
‘He is in pieces,’ said Gwirith. ‘He does not know himself.’
‘Will you continue to heal him with us?’
‘But if he does not want to be touched …’
‘I think with you it will be different,’ said Helevorn.
‘I don’t see why, but if I can help I will do whatever you wish.’
‘Come and see him now,’ said Helevorn, pulling him gently towards the door.
‘Are you sure?’ said Gwirith, hesitantly.
Helevorn opened the door and led him into the room. Celinn was lying back on the pillows with his eyes closed, his head arching back as if he were offering his neck to a blade and his lips apart. He was so pale that Gwirith’s heart missed a beat.
‘Is he all right?’ he said urgently, but then Celinn opened his eyes and looked up at them.
‘You are far away,’ he said in an expressionless voice. ‘I cannot reach you.’
‘I think it is you who has been far away,’ said Helevorn. ‘I do not think you have been able to find your way back to us yet.’
Celinn sighed. ‘I came because I was called. You called me,’ he said to Gwirith. ‘You and the Lady. I had to come back because of something I had to do. You said I couldn’t go until I had done it.’ He pressed his hand against his forehead. ‘I can’t remember what it is,’ he said wearily, and continued to stroke his forehead with his fingertips.
‘Are you in pain?’ said Gwirith gently.
‘Gwirith may be able to help you,’ said Helevorn quickly, seeing his opportunity.
‘Yes, there is some pain,’ he said quietly, but then seemed to lose interest in talking and turned away from them.
‘If you were to let Gwirith lay his hands on you, it might ease the pain a little,’ said Helevorn.
‘No,’ said Celinn, without looking at him. ‘Gwirith, do not trouble yourself.’
‘It is no trouble,’ said Gwirith, coming closer to the bed.
‘No!’ repeated Celinn, with steely quietness. ‘Please, I am tired, I need to rest now.’ He pulled the covers up so that his face was hidden from them.
‘We will come back later, Celinn,’ said Helevorn, but Celinn did not seem to hear him, and he and Gwirith left the room in silence.
An hour later Helevorn looked up at the stars that sparkled like chips of ice in the ink black sky. He had been right, a frost was certain tonight. His breath hung on the air as he bent over his precious herbs, making sure they were well protected. He straightened up and pulling the hood of his cloak over his head, he stepped between the plants and on to the path.
He stood outside the door for a moment and breathed in the cold sparkling air, feeling the deep silence of the forest pressing against him like a soft hand.
Suddenly an anguished scream rent the night. Helevorn flinched at the terrible sound which seemed to be coming from inside the house. He pulled open the door and ran inside.
Tathrenil was already there.
‘Who is it?’ he demanded. The scream came again, longer and more painful. The healers stared at each other and ran into the hallway. The door of Celinn’s room was open and Gwirith was already inside on the threshold. Celinn was sitting bolt upright in his bed, his eyes wild in his tear-stained face. The little hood had fallen from his head. Helevorn made to go nearer to the bed, but Celinn flung out both arms and cried out again. Helevorn stopped as abruptly as if he had been shot.
‘Celinn,’ he said, carefully, as though talking to a dangerous beast, but Celinn was not listening.
‘He is not in his right mind,’ said Gwirith, his voice less than steady. ‘I looked into his room a few moments ago and he seemed to have fallen asleep at last. I think he was woken by a dream.’
‘Maybe he dreams still,’ said Tathrenil. For several minutes they stood helplessly watching Celinn enduring an agony of terror. Then Gwirith said in a choked voice,
‘We must help him,’ and walked across the room. Celinn’s eyes widened even more and he pressed himself against the wall, lashing out at Gwirith with his arms. Gwirith dodged out of the way but Celinn struck him several times before Gwirith was able to seize his arms.
‘Gwirith, I remember!’ he cried out in anguish, still struggling. ‘What he did to me… the knife, I can feel the knife, and …and how he … sweet Elbereth, let me die … they held me, I couldn’t stop him…I tried so hard but he… he… merciful Eru, unmake me and let me not remember …and my hair…I tried so hard but I could not…I yielded… traitor …nothing but filth … darkness inside me …may I be cursed…let me go, I will never betray my company. I remember your name. Madoc. Haldir will come for us… let me go, let me go…you will not have me… don’t … don’t touch me…’ His voice ran on incoherently.
Gwirith used all his strength to keep hold of Celinn, and Helevorn tried to make him drink a draught to soothe him, but Celinn struggled away from him, crying out something about not being able to wake from his dreams, and at last he gave up. Celinn’s voice was strong and strident at first but gradually became weaker and weaker until it was a mere whisper. Gwirith felt his own strength failing, and all at once could not bear to restrain Celinn any longer and released him.
Celinn pulled violently away from him and pressed himself right into the corner, shuddering with horror.
‘You wouldn’t let me go, Gwirith,’ he said in a faltering voice, and his sea green eyes pierced Gwirith to the heart. Celinn pressed his hand to his side. ‘I am bleeding,’ he said. ‘He will kill me, but Aiglin will get home. I promised him. If I can delay him, Haldir might come for us, Gwirith. But I will bleed to death first. I deserve death, though, because I have lost my honour. My body, my hair, my oath. It is right that I should die.’
‘Celinn, you showed courage beyond courage,’ said Gwirith, unable to hold back his tears. ‘It is healing you need, not death.’
But Celinn had fallen silent, his eyes gazing unseeingly before him. Gwirith came closer to the bed, wiping the tears from his face.
‘Celinn, please let us help you,’ he pleaded, stretching out his hand to touch him. But the aura that surrounded Celinn was so icy that he flinched away.
‘He is cold,’ he said urgently turning to the others. As he did so, he saw a light pass by outside, and moments later there was a gentle knock on the door of the house. Helevorn ran to answer it. Gwirith turned back to Celinn, feeling the air surrounding him with his hands.
‘We must warm him. He is too cold,’ he repeated urgently. He felt a sudden wave of heat from behind him. ‘That is good, Tathrenil, stoking the fire will help,’ he said, turning, but Tathrenil was not by the fire. Then he felt a hand resting gently on his shoulder, and a current of warmth travelled down from it into the depths of his body. A wonderful fragrance filled the room and a soothing light, which was somehow also enlivening.
‘Lady,’ he said, his voice tremulous with relief. ‘How did you know?’
‘Which of us has not felt Celinn’s pain tonight?’ she said gently. ‘Everyone in Lorien is touched by it.’ She undid the hook on her cloak and Gwirith took it from her and laid it on a chair. The hem of her dress whispered softly on the floor as she went to Celinn’s side. They saw him shudder suddenly, and Galadriel stepped back a little.
‘He is raw with the pain of remembering,’ she said quietly to Gwirith. ‘Even the tenderest touch is like the lash of the whip to him. We can give him only a little help tonight, enough to make a small home for his fea so that it finds a way to stay.’
Quickly she and the healers cast the circle, then standing far from Celinn they channelled a gentle stream of healing light towards him. Gwirith stood beside Galadriel, watching the iridescence streaming from her hands, and it was the hardest healing he had ever done. Celinn’s fea was so raw that every feeling he was experiencing flowed in powerful waves from him, and Gwirith felt buffeted by pain, terror and nausea as he struggled to earth himself and channel what light he could to him. Celinn did not move at all, but occasionally Gwirith saw a tremor run through his body. When finally Galadriel brought the ritual to a close, Gwirith felt as exhausted as if he had been on a day’s fast march.
‘Celinn, I know you cannot speak to me,’ Galadriel said in her melodious voice. ‘I want you to know that the darkness within you is not yours, and that light awaits you, if you will let it enter. Love is your reward, my dear; death is not required of you.’ She pressed a kiss into her hands and cast it out into the air towards him, before turning to leave.
‘Do not try to touch him,’ the Lady said to Tathrenil and Helevorn when they stood together in the hallway, ‘though it breaks your heart to see him like this. This is the only way he knows to bear this pain, and you must help him by walking his road alongside him, not by showing him another path which you would wish for him.’
Gwirith helped her to put on her cloak. ‘Do not give up hope, Gwirith,’ she said to him. ‘A journey of healing is long and its ending is not clear at the start. But be true to your heart and all will be well,’ she said.
Gwirith knelt before her and pressed his lips to her hand, but she raised him up. ‘I honour you, Gwirith, for your courage in letting your heart live again,’ she said gently, then she turned away to say her farewells to the other healers before going out with her escort into the night.
Gwirith went straight back into Celinn’s room and stroking the air with his hands, found it perceptibly warmer than before. Celinn was still huddled into the corner. Gwirith could see the tension in every line of his body and though his eyes were open they still gazed into some far distance. Gwirith pulled the door wide open so that Celinn could see a way out of the room, then drew a chair over to the wall, as far from Celinn as possible to avoid disturbing his sensitive fea. There was a heavy red and gold rug on the chair back, and Gwirith sat down and covered himself with it.
‘I am here with you, Celinn, you will not be alone,’ he said quietly. Celinn gave no sign of having heard him, but he was glad he had spoken nevertheless. Then he settled down to watch through the night. Helevorn looked into the room and saw him.
‘I will call if there is need,’ said Gwirith, and the healer left him.
At first Gwirith could hear the noises of the house as others prepared for bed or went about their tasks, but eventually there was silence, and he and Celinn were enveloped together in the room as if they were on an island far from other habitation. Celinn barely moved, but after a long time his eyes fluttered and closed and he fell into a restless sleep. Through the long hours Gwirith watched him; saw the uneven rise and fall of his chest as he drew each difficult breath; saw every tremor that passed through his body and heard each incoherent mutter; looked into Celinn’s cloudy sea green eyes when he started awake suddenly in the middle of the night, then as quickly fell back into a pit of sleep. But never did Celinn abandon his defensive position, his body compressed, stiff and uncomfortable against the wall as though he would drive through it and out into the forest air if he could.
In the long deep night Gwirith gazed at Celinn in the soft light of the fire and the flickering candles, and the shape of Celinn’s fair face and tortured body became dear and familiar to him. It seemed as if their feas moved closer to each other and touched for fleeting moments, so that he knew again some of what Celinn had suffered at Adanwath’s hands. And it seemed also that Celinn’s fea knew the tears that Gwirith wept for him that night, and was somehow comforted, even though his hroa was cold and unyielding as ice.
By the time the frosty silver light of dawn entered the room, Gwirith looked on Celinn with new eyes, seeing beyond the armour of his agony and affliction to the clear strong beauty of his face, the tenderness of his mouth, and the slender graceful lines of his body. His heart mysteriously consoled, he too lost himself in sleep, and only woke again when Tathrenil shook his shoulder hours later and he blinked himself awake in the full light of the sun.
‘He sleeps a little better,’ whispered Tathrenil. Gwirith smiled at him.
Tathrenil’s eyebrows twitched suddenly and he looked at him sideways, but if he had something to say, he took the extremely unusual decision to keep his own counsel.
‘It is much too soon,’ said Tathrenil, irritably. ‘It is only three days since the fever broke. Obviously it has addled your brain.’
‘Rest until your wounds are healed,’ said Helevorn, soothingly, stepping back on to Tathrenil’s foot. ‘A little while, and you will be stronger.’
‘I can’t stay here,’ said Celinn, desperately. ‘This room is too small.’
‘Too small?’ echoed Tathrenil.
‘Yes. Walls and corners. I need to get out, into the air.’ He threw back the bedclothes and tried to swing his legs to the floor. ‘Let me go outside at least.’
‘Celinn,’ said Helevorn, ‘what are you doing? You’re not ready to walk yet,’ and he tried to restrain him.
Celinn cried out wildly and struggled out of Helevorn’s hands. He managed to get to his feet and took a few steps but almost at once his strength gave out and he stumbled to the floor. Both healers rushed to help him but Celinn went rigid with fear and held out both arms.
‘Please, don’t touch me,’ he said. His voice was steady but he was obviously making a great effort to control it.
‘Let me help you back to bed, Celinn,’ said Helevorn. ‘Then I will prepare you another room, a bigger one.’
‘No, I need to get out now,’ said Celinn, breathlessly.
Helevorn stood up and took a blanket from the bed. ‘Find Gwirith,’ he said in an aside to Tathrenil, and the other healer left the room.
‘If you will not come back to bed, put this round you to keep you warm,’ he said, holding out the blanket. But Celinn recoiled even further from him.
‘Don’t touch me. Please, let me go,’ he said, his voice rising.
Helevorn looked at him sadly. ‘Celinn, you can barely walk,’ he said.
Then Gwirith came in with Tathrenil. Slowly Gwirith crossed the room and stopped near Celinn.
‘I will not yield,’ Celinn said stubbornly, looking up at him. ‘Use me as you will, but I will never yield.’
Gwirith sighed deeply. He sat down on the floor a little way from Celinn and waited. Celinn’s head had sunk down between his shoulders as though it was too heavy for him to hold up. His body twitched fitfully and he had fixed his eyes on a spot on the wooden floor directly in front of him. For a long time he did not move, then he gasped suddenly,
‘Elbereth, tua amin,’ and arched his back, crying out loudly as if he were in pain. Then, at length, he whispered ‘Amin lava,’ and brought up one arm to cover his face.
Gwirith felt as if his heart was weeping within his breast and his hand flew out to touch Celinn, but he forced himself to arrest its movement. Instead he let his fea seek Celinn’s, and soon came close to it. It was vibrating with a pain so strong that at first Gwirith could not approach it, but he adjusted to it and tentatively reached out to Celinn. He thought Celinn would resist him as he had done before but after a small hesitation Celinn’s fea turned to him with recognition.
‘You can trust me,’ Gwirith said to him in his mind. ‘I will lead you back.’ And Celinn followed him.
Gwirith opened his eyes. Celinn was still crouched on the floor but he had stopped twitching. Slowly he moved his arm away from his face and looked dazedly at Gwirith.
‘What am I doing here?’ he said hoarsely. ‘Gwirith? Is that you?’
‘Yes,’ said Gwirith quietly.
‘What are they doing?’ he asked, looking at the two healers. ‘Why are we on the floor?’
‘You had a waking dream, Celinn. We were trying to help you.’
Celinn turned his head slowly and looked at Tathrenil. ‘I remember now,’ he said darkly. ‘They wouldn’t let me go outside.’
‘I’m sorry, Celinn,’ said Tathrenil. ‘We will take you outside as soon as you want to go.’
Celinn looked around at the walls of the room and seemed to shrink into himself.
‘Now,’ he whispered urgently.
The healers quickly got to their feet and conferred for a few moments, then Tathrenil went out.
‘We will prepare what you will need,’ said Helevorn. ‘Can we help you up now?’ he asked, coming a few steps closer.
But Celinn’s body arched back instinctively against the wall. ‘Please,’ he said carefully, ‘Stay away.’
Gwirith was still sitting on the floor near Celinn. ‘Is there any way we can help you, Celinn? You will need some more clothes, and a way to walk outside.’
‘Leave them near me,’ Celinn said. ‘I will dress myself. And maybe a staff to walk with.’
Gwirith remained sitting in silence with Celinn as they waited for these things to be ready. Celinn stared at his long dark hair with a kind of hunger, then looked away quickly.
When they had brought the clothes and staff Celinn said, ‘I will call you when I am ready.’ Gwirith and the healers left the room reluctantly and stood waiting in the hallway.
‘Sweet Elbereth, what can we do to help him? I thought it was only in his sleep that he returned to that terrible time, but even waking he is transported back there,’ said Helevorn, despondently.
‘We must be patient,’ said Tathrenil.
‘Yes,’ said Helevorn. ‘So don’t go telling him his brain is addled next time.’ Tathrenil looked away shamefacedly.
‘Tathrenil is right,’ said Gwirith. ‘If he is to heal, it will be in his own time, if we walk his path with him, but not too close. He cannot tolerate it.’
‘Gwirith,’ said Tathrenil, seizing his arm, ‘you were able to reach him. He will let you closer than anyone else.’
Gwirith smiled. ‘I am glad I can help him. He has braved just the same stubbornness from me in the past. I owe him something for that.’
Then they heard Celinn’s voice calling, and went into his room. He had managed to pull on the clothes and had wedged the staff under his arm like a crutch, but the effort had cost him something.
‘Can I not help you at all, Celinn?’ said Gwirith, forcing himself to speak calmly as he saw the pain on Celinn’s face.
‘No,’ Celinn said breathlessly. ‘Just open the door.’
Gwirith did as he was asked and the pungent smell of the forest came into the room. Celinn took a shuddering breath, and with great determination took his first step. They heard him suppress a groan, but he went on without hesitation. The little group moved slowly to the door and then out over the threshold into the forest. A chair had been placed just outside but Celinn said,
‘Further away,’ and Helevorn picked up the chair. Celinn went on walking until he was some distance from the house, and when he stopped Helevorn put the chair down. Celinn limped round it and sat down, closing his eyes and letting out his breath in a slow sigh.
The others waited a while, but Celinn seemed to have forgotten them, so they turned and went back to the house.
‘We must prepare the other room for him,’ said Helevorn, and he and Tathrenil went off together, engrossed in their work. Gwirith stood at the threshold of the room, looking out at Celinn. With the newly opened eyes of his fea, he saw the aura of pain surrounding him, and the strong shield Celinn was building to protect himself. Gwirith recognised the dark lines of energy that would wall Celinn off from the pain but also from joy and love.
‘He will not be as I was, so lonely that he forgets that love ever existed,’ Gwirith vowed silently to himself. ‘I will not let him.’ And he determined to find a way to help Celinn turn back from the solitary place in which he longed to exile himself.
Then he heard Helevorn calling him and turned away from the door to answer his summons.
Celinn stayed outside for the whole day despite the chill in the autumn air. Tathrenil brought him a tray of food but he ate very little of it. The next day and the days after that were the same, save that each day he went further into the forest so that at last he was out of their sight.
Aragorn came to see him again before leaving with his brothers to hunt orcs on Lorien’s borders, but Celinn was deep in the forest and could not be found, so he had to leave without saying farewell.
Haldir clasped him gently in his arms, mindful of his injured shoulder, which was still strapped up.
‘Tell him I wish him well, Haldir,’ said Aragorn, the expression on his face seeming to flicker between his old youthful excitement and a solemn maturity, tinged with sadness. ‘I will see him on my return.’
‘Good hunting,’ said Haldir, and watched Elrond’s three sons stride away into the forest.
Celinn’s new room had doors which opened out directly on to the forest path, and he kept them open day and night, being unable to bear anyone closing them. He was already talking about leaving the healing house, although the healers pointed out to him that he would be unable to climb up to his talan until his wounds had healed.
On the seventh day Celinn was feverish again and the pain in his wounds had worsened, but he insisted on going out into the forest nevertheless.
Tathrenil was in despair. ‘How will he heal if he takes so little care of himself?’ he said, in great distress, as he watched Celinn limping slowly down the forest path.
‘I have never known an elf take so long to heal,’ said Helevorn to Haldir, as he ground up some herbs with a mortar and pestle to make a poultice for Celinn’s shoulder and side. ‘He resists every effort we make to help him.’
‘He has suffered too many disasters at once to heal quickly,’ said Haldir.
‘I will go after him in a little while,’ said Gwirith. ‘However much he fears it, I think he will need our help today.’
‘I will go with you,’ said Haldir.
‘Go by all means, Guardian,’ said Helevorn, ‘but follow Gwirith’s lead in this. He seems to know what Celinn needs better than the rest of us.’
‘That does not surprise me,’ said Haldir.
‘Nor me,’ said Helevorn. Gwirith looked at him with a puzzled frown, then turned back to the window.
‘So you will do as I ask, although letting another lead must be a rare experience for you, Guardian?’ said Helevorn.
‘Not so rare as you may think,’ said Haldir, winking at the healer, who blushed and returned to his work.
And indeed just after the middle of the day it began to rain, first a soft shower that brought up the smell of the rich earth and all the things that grew in it; but soon it became a heavy downpour, and Gwirith watched the large drops strike the earth and bounce back up as he and Haldir strode through the trees in search of Celinn. They found him at last far away from the chair Helevorn had brought out for him, sitting with his back against a tree, looking up at the rain falling through the forest canopy. He was wet through.
Gwirith held back all the exasperated and worried comments that sprang to his lips. Instead he made sure not to startle Celinn by making enough noise to announce their arrival from some distance away, and walked a wide circle round him before himself sitting down where Celinn could see him. Haldir stood at a little distance, watching what he did. Celinn gave no sign that he had noticed him, so Gwirith said,
‘We thought if you were coming home you might like some company on the way.’
Celinn turned slowly to him. ‘It’s raining,’ he said.
‘You need some dry clothes,’ said Gwirith. ‘Can I do anything to help you?’
‘No,’ said Celinn, and tried to get to his feet. Gwirith found it one of the hardest things he had ever done to sit without comment and watch Celinn struggle painfully upright. It took him a long time because he had to rest every few seconds. Gwirith called to Elbereth and Elwe for the strength to stay exactly where he was, and he let his feet feel the pull of the earth to help him stay rooted to the spot. When at last he was standing, he rested his hand on the tree, gathering his strength to move again.
At last Celinn was ready to go, and Haldir and Gwirith walked as near as Celinn’s fea would allow. Gwirith felt its aura spreading out into the air around him, and in the green misty light under the trees he could just see its dark outline. Their progress was slow and halting. Gwirith said nothing, knowing Celinn was not interested in conversation. The rain continued to fall, and each time they stopped, Celinn lifted his hand and slowly wiped the moisture from his face. Soon Gwirith found himself waiting to see the beautiful graceful gesture, and after a while he began to notice the slow grace of Celinn’s movements as he drove himself on by pure determination.
‘You have great courage, Celinn,’ he said before he could stop himself.
Celinn halted abruptly and turned to him.
‘You mock me, Gwirith,’ he said bitterly.
‘I do not mock you,’ said Gwirith. ‘You are in pain and you have a fever; you must compel yourself to take every single step, because your body longs to rest. And yet you walk on without a word. That is courage, Celinn.’
Celinn watched him darkly for a long moment, then he said,
‘I walk because I must. Courage does not come into it.’ And he swung himself forwards with the help of his staff. Gwirith let the wave of sadness that rose from within wash over him and out into the air. They walked on in silence, until Gwirith saw that Celinn was finding it increasingly difficult to keep going and was taking longer and longer rests. Still he kept his counsel, knowing that nothing he could say would be acceptable to Celinn.
But despite that, he was still unprepared when Celinn suddenly swayed and crumpled to the ground. Gwirith put out his hand without thinking and seized Celinn’s elbow, but even in his weakened state Celinn pulled away violently from him.
‘Don’t touch me,’ he said, barely able to speak. So Gwirith found himself once again sitting beside Celinn, drawing on whatever reserves of patience he might have, watching his friend struggling to force his spent body to do something it definitely did not want to. Haldir came near and knelt on the wet ground, his face drawn with sadness.
Gwirith’s lips moved silently as he called on the Starkindler, asking her to help him trust that somewhere in this madness there might be hope and healing. ‘How can we help him when he does everything to deny himself comfort?’ he asked her. ‘How can I reach him and find a channel to connect him to love again? I will use any subterfuge if it will only help him to hate himself less. ’
Celinn finally gave up the attempt to rise from the ground and lay with his eyes closed. His fingers relaxed their grip on the staff and it rolled a little way from him while the rain fell on his face and on the long braided lock of hair that had escaped the embroidered hood he always wore. Gwirith passed his hand high over Celinn’s body without touching it, thinking to give him a little strength without him noticing, but he shuddered and drew in a sharp breath.
‘Celinn,’ said Gwirith, trying to sound calm and reasonable. ‘You cannot stay here while it is raining so hard. If we go back to the healing house, you can put on some dry clothes and come out again.’
‘I’ll get up in a moment…after I’ve had a rest,’ Celinn mumbled.
Gwirith’s composure broke. With a warning glance at Haldir, he got to his feet and looked down at the long slender figure lying stretched out on the forest floor, then turned and walked until he was out of sight. He knelt down and pressed his head against the strong smooth trunk of a mallorn tree while burning tears leaked from his eyes. Suddenly furious with Celinn for refusing to let anyone help him, he clung to the tree so hard that he felt his nails gouge into the bark and the tree’s sharp roots press painfully against his legs. He shouted into the tree, ancient words of abuse that he had not used for years uncounted, and he felt the trunk creak a little in complaint.
He was surprised how quickly his angry fit spent itself. He bowed to the tree and repented of his harsh use of it, and the tree shook a shower of raindrops on to him in mixed censure and benediction. Then he turned and walked back the way he had come.
Celinn had not moved at all. Haldir stood a little way off, watching him in silence. Gwirith knelt a little way from Celinn but even from there he could hear his laboured breathing and see the flush of fever on his cheeks. Gwirith offered himself to Elbereth and suddenly words came to him.
‘Celinn, you wish to leave the healing house, to be able to go where you choose again.’
‘Yes,’ Celinn murmured.
‘If you could bear a little help, you would be able to leave sooner. By struggling alone you will recover more slowly,’ said Gwirith, extending his hand to Celinn.
‘No, you cannot touch me,’ said Celinn, slurring his words a little.
‘But why not, Celinn?’ said Gwirith gently.
‘You know why,’ Celinn said. ‘I am not fit to touch. And even if I were,’ he paused, breathless. 'Even if I were,’ he went on, ‘I cannot …you cannot…’ He faltered and fell silent. For a while the only sound was the hiss and patter of the rain and Celinn’s harsh breathing.
‘I remember why you called me back,’ he said at last. ‘My oath, my captain’s oath.’ Again he paused for a long time. ‘But …now it is broken…and the person who took that oath is gone…as good as dead…so I have no place here any more.’ He gave a deep sigh. ‘I am so tired…’
Haldir came a little nearer to him. ‘Celinn, you have met with great evil,’ he said. ‘Under its shadow, none of us knows what we will do. Sometimes we fail, but we must forgive ourselves and go on.’
‘I don’t know how to go on,’ said Celinn. ‘I have lost myself. On the morning of my braiding… I dedicated myself to my company…in the sight of the Valar. Now I cannot fulfil my oath…I have no right to live…no place in the realms of Arda or elsewhere.’
Gwirith stirred suddenly. ‘You made your oath near water, you used…’
‘Do not speak of it!’ Celinn cried. ‘Though it is broken, it was a sacred oath.’
‘And I will make a sacred oath,’ said Gwirith. He stood up and ran a little way off and came back with a stone. It was striped in brown and dull gold, and of such a size that it lay comfortably in the palm of his hand.
‘Haldir, lend me one of your arrows,’ he said, and Haldir reached into his quiver and handed him one. Gwirith used the point to scratch something on the flat surface of the stone, then gave the arrow back. Celinn turned his head very slightly to see what he was doing.
Then Gwirith removed his hood so that he was bareheaded and knelt on the ground before them.
‘Haldir, I call you to witness the oath I am about to make.’
Haldir also bared his head. ‘In the name of Elbereth, I will witness it,’ he said.
Gwirith turned to Celinn and looked him full in the eyes.
‘Here in the sacred ground of the forest, I have chosen this stone to mark my oath.’
‘Gwirith, do not do this,’ begged Celinn, but Gwirith went on regardless.
‘Before Elbereth the most beloved, Manwe her spouse, and Ulmo of the waters, I ask to carry for a time the oath made by Celinn on the day of his braiding, and the blame he attributes to himself for breaking it. This is not to deprive him of the fulfilment of his oath, but to take the burden from him until he is able to carry it himself again. It is for the Holy Ones judge whether Celinn has broken his oath or not: for my part I hold him blameless.’ He held the stone up above his head. ‘May the rain be the running water of Ulmo,’ he said, and they saw the stone’s dun and gold hues sparkle as the rain soaked it.
Slowly Gwirith lowered his hands.
‘Will you accept my oath, Celinn?’ he asked, looking into his sea green eyes. Fear and hope both flickered across Celinn’s face, but at last he whispered, ‘Yes.’
A growl of thunder was heard in the distance and for several minutes the rain became heavier. In it they heard Ulmo’s voice, and when it began to ease, they felt a breath of warm wind which carried a fragrance of distant shores, and knew Elbereth too had given her blessing. All three elves sighed deeply as the wind touched them, and they were filled with longing when it passed away from them. Dazed by the closeness of the Holy Ones, they drifted in reverie for a while as the rain became gentler and finally stopped altogether.
Gwirith came to himself first, and storing the stone safely within his clothes, he moved closer to Celinn and extended his hand.
‘Let me help you up, mellon nin,’ he said gently.
But Celinn recoiled from him. ‘Please, Gwirith, I can’t,’ he said brokenly. ‘In a moment….’
‘I remember a time not so long ago, Celinn,’ Gwirith said ruefully, ‘when the idea of someone touching me was more terrifying than facing the Necromancer himself in his fastness of Dol Guldur.’
But all Celinn did was give a groan of pain.
‘It was you who showed me that that path led to destruction,’ said Gwirith. ‘How can I give you back the very lesson that I learnt from you?’ Celinn groaned again. Gwirith came a little closer.
‘The pain is bad, Celinn. I beg you to let me help you.’ he said. He unhooked his cloak and laid it over Celinn. ‘The cloth will be a barrier between us.’ And he laid his hand gently on Celinn’s shoulder. Celinn flinched but was too weak to push Gwirith away.
‘Gwirith, don’t…please…’ he pleaded, but Gwirith did not remove his hand. Gwirith waited, feeling Celinn’s fea struggling against him. He opened his heart and let Celinn’s fear enter into him.
‘I feel your fear, Celinn,’ he said gently. Celinn moaned softly, almost overcome with the agony of his injuries. At last he gave a deep sigh of surrender.
‘Only you,’ he breathed, ‘no-one else. And only so that I may go.’
‘Yes,’ Gwirith said, and he quickly lifted him to his feet. Celinn was so weak that Gwirith half carried him back to the healing house. Haldir would have assisted him, but Celinn would not let him approach and at last Gwirith sent him on ahead to warn the healers of their return.
When they were nearly there Celinn suddenly struggled away from Gwirith, then bent over double and was sick. Gwirith waited for him to finish, then wiped his face with a corner of his cloak.
‘It is too much,’ Celinn gasped, supporting himself against a tree. ‘Do not touch me again. I feel…’
‘You feel Adanwath,’ said Gwirith.
Celinn nodded wordlessly, his face contorted with pain. Gwirith walked round until he was looking into Celinn’s face.
‘I know what he did to you, Celinn,’ he said quietly. Celinn gasped and tried to turn away, but Gwirith moved round so that he could look at him directly. ‘You are not to blame. You suffer so much because you have not had time to release the darkness you endured.’
‘I will never be free of it,’ said Celinn, in a voice of utter hopelessness. ‘He has polluted me.’
He staggered then, and Gwirith caught him before he fell. Yet again Celinn tried to struggle away, but Gwirith said, ‘You will be free of it, Celinn. Let me help you, as you agreed.’
‘I am in hell,’ Celinn whispered, but he let Gwirith support him until they reached the end of the forest path, although he had to stop to be sick again just before they entered the environs of the healing house.
At last they saw the open doors of his room ahead of them. They stepped over the threshold and Gwirith helped Celinn to stretch out on the bed
‘I will get you some dry clothes,’ Gwirith said, looking down on Celinn’s face, bleached white after his recent sickness.
He went out of the room and found Helevorn and Tathrenil waiting for him.
‘By Iluvatar himself, we thought something terrible had happened,’ said Tathrenil. ‘How is he?’
‘He did not want me to help him, but at last he agreed,’ said Gwirith.
‘He agreed? By Este the healer, the Valar must have chosen you for special blessings, Gwirith,’ said Tathrenil.
‘He needs dry clothes,’ said Gwirith.
‘So do you,’ said Helevorn. Gwirith laughed suddenly, overcome with the relief of being back in the healing house. He quickly went away to change and came back to find Tathrenil carrying a shirt, tunic and breeches as well as a hooded cloak.
‘I will take them to him,’ said Gwirith.
‘Blessings go with you,’ said Tathrenil.
Gwirith knocked gently on the door. No sound came from within so he entered and closed it behind him, laying the clothes down on a chair.
When he put his arm under Celinn’s shoulders and lifted him up he felt him shrink away and heard his fea’s cry of fear, but he opened his heart again as Tathrenil had taught him to do and took the fear into himself. Taking care not to jar his wounds, Gwirith helped Celinn to strip off his wet clothes. Celinn made him turn away when he changed his breeches, but he allowed him to help him on with his dry shirt and tunic. He insisted on wearing the cloak so that he could cover his head with the hood.
‘But your hair is still wet,’ Gwirith said and picked up a linen towel from the chair. The high painful vibration of Celinn’s fea had eased a little, and he let Gwirith dry his shorn head and his one blond braid. It was then that he felt tears on his face, but he wiped them away without understanding why he had wept them. Gwirith saw this but made no comment.
When Celinn was dressed in his dry clothes, Gwirith helped him to lay down again. He was a little less pale but his skin still had a strange blueish tinge and his eyes glittered with fever.
‘How is the pain now?’ Gwirith asked.
‘It is the same,’ said Celinn, and once again Gwirith was moved by his courage. His fingers tingled with energy and looking down at them he saw the same iridescent light radiating from them as he had seen around Galadriel’s hands.
‘Celinn, tell me where the pain is worst, and I will try to help you,’ he said. But before Celinn could answer him, he knew what he would say. ‘It is your hip,’ he said.
Celinn nodded, his mouth twisting with the pain. Gwirith drew the chair to Celinn’s bedside and sat down, then laid his hands gently on Celinn’s right hip. Celinn pulled away as though he had been burnt, but Gwirith tried again, although he could feel the immense strength of Celinn’s hroa trying to push him away. Whereas before he had felt the wound as cold and sharp, now it was hot and inflamed.
‘The bone is growing again but there is an infection,’ he said, half to himself. His hands moved by their own intuition to the place where the infection had its deepest roots, and with the eyes of his fea he saw its hot red tendrils flowing out from a murky centre. Opening his heart and his hands to the light of the One, he let it flow into the long bone of Celinn’s thigh and begin to cleanse away the poison from the heart of the wound where the bone had been shattered. It felt under his hands as if there was something crooked in the way it was knitting, and he sent the light into the fibres of the bone so that they would straighten and grow true, and to the blood vessels so that they would heal and nourish the new growing tissue.
Celinn moaned softly as he worked, and Gwirith knew he was concentrating his whole will on not resisting Gwirith’s touch.
‘It is like the echo of the life of the tree in my hands when I make a bow,’ he mused, ‘but now the tree is still rooted to the life of the earth. You are still rooted to the earth and the sky, to the water and the stone and the air.’
Gwirith’s hands grew hot as the heat passed from the wound into them, and he felt the injured bone begin to breath and pulse again and the tendons and muscles around it lay back into their rightful places. Celinn gave a long sigh and his head fell sideways on the pillow. Gwirith looked up in alarm, but he saw that some of the pain had been smoothed from his brow and he was breathing more evenly. Soon he felt his hands cool, and he sent a clean silver light into the wound as the Lady had taught him. He could see that it was not completely healed, but his hands told him to stop his work, so he swept Celinn’s aura with the silver light and then let it drain out of them both into the earth beneath his feet.
Gwirith offered his deepest gratitude to Iluvatar, in whose mind the first music was conceived, and by whose gift Celinn’s body and his own had been created, and then he closed the healing with thanks to the four quarters. For several minutes he rested his forehead on his arms, then stood up and covered Celinn with a green and gold blanket.
Half an hour later Tathrenil looked in to find him stretched out full length on his bed, sound asleep, his cloak flung across one shoulder.
Tua amin = help me
Amin lava = I yield
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.