Suddenly, a brilliant, colorful light bright enough to hurt their eyes burst into being, sending the small inhabitants of Fangorn Forest scattering in fear.
Gimli shouted and raised his axe, trees be damned. Aragorn pulled Andúril from his sheath with a cry. Gandalf shielded his eyes and pointed his staff.
The light abruptly vanished as the arrow of Legolas found its mark.
Blinking away the afterimage, the four members of the broken Fellowship walked cautiously towards the crumbled figure on the ground. Vision returned slowly, and when it did they could see the form of a young woman—more a girl, really—sprawled on the ground.
She was beautiful, in an unreal way. Her long, perfectly combed hair, now splayed raggedly about her ivory complexioned face, seemed spun on gold. Her lips were rather large and very red. Her waist seemed almost too thin, and her bosom was rather buxom, swelling a little too tightly against the thin fabric of her light dress for modesty’s comfort. Her eyes were rimmed with exceptionally thick, black lashes that contrasted sharply with her gold hair, and her staring eyes were startlingly blue, now vacant.
Her fancy silken ball gown was stained with crimson the same color as her thick lips in a rough, spreading circle around the elven arrow through her heart.
Legolas seemed horrified. “I thought it was some trickery of Saruman’s,” he began in anguish. “I—I felt as if something was trying to invade my fëa
, and was certain it was the wizard. I did not know it was a child—”
Gandalf interrupted the distraught Elf. “It quite likely was
some treachery of his,” he reassured them darkly. “Have you another explanation for the light that heralded her sudden appearance, or her manner of arrival?”
“She certainly did not walk here, after all,” said the Ranger, kneeling down to examine the corpse. “Firstly, we would have heard her approach, and second, there is upon her dress and shoes no sign of travel—and cloth of that substance would show even a second in Fangorn. Look, you can already see stains spreading from the scant second she has lain on the ground,” Aragorn pointed out.
“And speaking of the dress,” said Gandalf, prodding the ornate dress with the tip of his staff, “what do you see? It at first seems white, but shimmers like the rainbow on closer inspection.”
“’The Many-Colored,’” said Gimli quietly. He snorted derisively. “Well, if she didn’t plan on magicing herself out of here, I don’t see how she would have made it. Those shoes certainly were no more made for walking than that dress was.”
“And I, too, felt something scraping at my heart,” Aragorn whispered, brow furrowed in thought. “It seemed to be trying to—to make me forget all that I cared for…”
“To act rashly,” Legolas added. “To cease to think, or to care for the fate of Middle-earth or the importance of our quest, and focus only on the moment.”
“To forget love,” the Ranger said softly, fingering an empty finger, as if remembering a ring that had recently encircled it.
“Galadriel,” Gimli murmured, hand straying towards a pocket in his tunic.
“Arwen,” said Aragorn, as if only now remembering the name of his betrothed. “Arwen…”
“Hmph,” said Gandalf, scowling at the dead girl. “A good thing you shot her—or more likely it—Legolas,” he said. “She does not seem normal. I do not believe that she belonged in Arda. I know not what devilry Saruman is brewing, but if he has more of these creatures I hope your bow will be as quick to fell them as it did this one.”
“Never fear,” said Gimli with a grin, “the Bow of Galadriel will make up for any deficiencies on the part of our Elf Prince.”
“Ay,” said Legolas with a quick nod, “yet I fear that not even her locks will be able to do much for the Dwarf. He is beyond even the aid of the Lady of the Woods.”
Gimli scowled at the Elf. “Speak no ill of the Lady Galadriel,” he warned threateningly.
Legolas’s eyes widened in innocence. “Never, by all the trees of the forests! I disparage nothing, but speak only the truth. Even the most powerful are daunted by something, and I fear the shortcomings of the Dwarves are too much for even her ladyship.”
“Listen, Elf—” Gimli began, but Gandalf held up a hand begging for silence.
“Peace you two, peace! Let an old man think a moment.” He smiled at them warmly. “I can see that there were developments among the Companions while I was gone. You shall have to tell me of them—but later. I would not linger here.”
“Should we not do something with…this?” asked Aragorn, indicating the girl’s body.
Gandalf stared at it for a moment and his face darkened. “Nay,” he said at last. “I would not have any of us touch it. Who knows what foul enchantments Saruman has laid upon it. Leave it to the trees and their guardians. They will be better able to resist the spells than we. Let us come away, we should not linger.”
Taking one last, lingering look at the corpse, Aragorn and Gimli turned away from the strange pull and followed Gandalf slowly through the dark and tangled woods. Legolas hesitated, then stepped towards the girl and deftly pulled his arrow free. Grimacing slightly, he wiped the blood from the tip on the light dress. Suddenly the Elf swayed slightly, and his eyes turned dreamy. He shook his head violently, and, feeling slightly light-headed, dropped the arrow as if it had bitten him. It was not worth braving such a strong enchantment for one more arrow.
He felt as if he had just brushed something powerful and frightening—a power beyond that known to Middle-earth—and had only narrowly escaped. He thanked Ilúvatar for the reflexes of the Elves and Galadriel and Celeborn for the majestic bow. Who knows what the strange creature would have done to them if he had not fired so quickly and so true?
He wondered just what Saruman had intended, and decided that perhaps it was better not to study the mind of the Enemy too closely if it was willing to use such power with recklessness in its eagerness to destroy them. He no longer regretted killing the creature; that was no human girl, as he had thought at first. That was a dark power waiting to consume them all. If it had managed to cloud Arwen and Galadriel from the minds of Aragorn and Gimli so easily, he dreaded to think what it would have done to him.
With a slight shudder, Legolas quickly left the girl behind and hurried to catch up to his companions.
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.