3. The Second Cloak
"What will you wish for the wearer of your cloak, Aerwing?" asked Maedhvel.
"I do not know yet. It ought to be easy, but it is not. So much depends on him!"
Belegwen, calm and grave, passed the cup of wine around, and they each took a sip. Their minds turned to the second cloak, which Aerwing had begun to sew with thread as fine as gossamer. The wine made their thoughts flow freely, and images of the past came to the mind of each maiden.
"Do you remember," said Lindhris, "when we first met him in Imladris?"
"He was so very young, barely more than a boy." Gathgael smiled in reminiscence. "You laughed at him, Parvelui, when his steps were so clumsy in the dance."
"I was very young then, too," replied Parvelui.
"So you were," said Belegwen, "and you still are, by the measure of our people, while he has grown into maturity. A bashful youth he was, I remember it well. But even then, there was something about him that set him apart from all other men I've ever met. Something high and noble and at the same time tender and warm. It was hidden then, like a sapling under deep snow, but it was there nevertheless. Of course it was so much clearer to see by the time he came here."
"That was the first time I met him," said Salabeth, "and I perceived about him then a greatness I did not know men could possess."
"You were not the only one to notice," said Gathgael, and smiles spread on every face in the room. They would not name the lady, but they all knew. They had seen the light in her eyes, and in his.
Aerwing refilled the cup and sent it round again.
"Indeed, he is great not only among men, but among all who live in Middle-earth. And he has grown in many ways. Short years they may appear to us and barely enough to make Parvelui seem more than a girl, but they have shaped him into a man of strength and wisdom beyond the usual share of his kind. But now his mind is troubled, and he is close to despair."
"Who could blame him?" said Faenchiriel. "He did not expect to be the leader of this company. Lending the strength of his sword to Gondor's struggles is what he set out to do, trusting that the ring-bearer would be guided by another. Now that this other is gone, all responsibility rests on him and he is bound by duty to lead them. But he knows that his own plight must not be abandoned either. He has two roads to follow and whichever he chooses, he will blame himself for not taking the other. I fear he will attempt to travel both."
Parvelui shook her head sadly. "To defeat the armies of Mordor and reclaim the throne of Gondor seems already a task beyond the strength of any man. How can he take on Mithrandir's burden, too?"
"It seems impossible," said Maedhvel quietly. "I do not see how he could prevail."
"No, neither can I."
They cast down their eyes, each contemplating the enormity of the quest. The sun was setting and long grey shadows touched the floor. At length, Aerwing seized the cloak and held it to her cheek.
"This will be the blessing: That he will find another way. May he discover a path, where none other can. May roads that lead into darkness guide him into light."
Dusk crept into the room and their hands rested.
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.