// The Vala VairŽ looked sadly at the latest of her tapestries. So much suffering for one Elf; how many such scenes had she weaved? She knew not. The Elf has sacrificed so much for the children of Ilķvatar, indeed for all of Arda. Loss had been the Elfís companion from the first. Oh, gifts had been bestowed, but they had been bequeathed for the greater good of all Arda and not for the Elfís sake and said gifts had carried heavy prices. The Vala could not stand to visit upon the Elf more suffering. Yes, it was time something was given back.
In the great halls of Valinor, a meeting was held. VairŽ had a request. The Valar listened, but none with the horror of VairŽís own husband, Mandos. His voice rose in the loudest objection, but VairŽís case was sound, and more importantly, just. So it was that a faer was released from Mandosís halls and returned to Arda. Only one condition did the faer travel with.
No one was to know why it was returned. //
Gil-galad squeezed his eyes tightly shut, his senses overwhelmed with sensation. The bright light of Anor was too much for eyes that had been unseeing for many years. Impressions flooded the former High King. There was the very feel of Anor, the caresses of the wind, the variety of scents. Unable to cope, Gil-galad fell to his knees, struggling to ground himself.
There, that was better. Solid ground under him, humming with the pulse of Arda. He leaned back, allowing himself to fall flat upon his back. With eyes still tightly shut, he soaked in the joyous feeling of being returned. Gil-galadís nose twitched, recognizing smells from so long ago. There was the aroma of fresh green things; the very air itself had its own fragrances. There were the traces of animals that had passed by long ago and could still be detected, and what he missed most of all, the delightful, perfume, of flowers. Once the scents became familiar once more, he moved on to the impression of once again having a whole form. A form that could feel. Blood rushed through his body, the feeling of fabric brushing against his solid frame stimulating nerves, and with a joyous cry, he found he could speak. Laughing, and loving that he could laugh, Gil-galad rolled among the grasses like a small Elfing enjoying his Begetting day. To be whole and real once more, to be returned to a world he thought never to be apart of again, Gil-galad sobbed in bliss!
The Galadhrim guards of Lothlůrien eyed the display the adult Elf was putting on with amazement. That the stranger had trespassed upon their lands was enough, but the silly Elf was rolling around on the ground, sobbing! None knew what to make of this most peculiar sight and indeed were fairly stuck dumb in incredulity. That is, until their Marchwarden, Haldir, snapped an order that had their attention returning to their tasks. Haldir signaled the archers in the trees to make ready and silently approached the deranged Elf. He patiently waited for the Elfís attention to fall upon him. The rolling figure finally noticed that he was not alone and stared up with amazement at the Galadhel.
"Well, hello," Gil-galad said. It took him several moments to pick himself up and brush himself off. Finally standing, he eyed the stern familiar face with awe. "Haldir!" he cried, and rushed towards the startled Marchwarden. Only Haldirís quickly upraised arm, signaling the Galadheim in the trees to hold their fire, saved Gil-galad from a return trip to Mandosí Halls. Then it was Haldir who stumbled back wearing an expression of astonishment.
"N-no, it can not be!" he whispered, voice trembling. "You wear the face of a ghost, stranger. W-who are you?" he demanded. The other Galadhrim, hearing the shock and panic in their leaderís voice, cautiously moved forward.
It was Gil-galad that raised a placating arm. "It is I, Gil-galad, Haldir of Lorien. I have been returned to Arda." The former High King watched sadly as the proud warrior before him fell to his knees, bowing his head. He did not want that to be the first effect others had to his rebirth, a long past allegiance to an old ruler.
"My King, forgive me my shock. You are most welcome in Lothlůrien." Haldir looked up at the King, his expression joyous. "Indeed, Sire, all of Arda shall rejoice in your return." Haldir jumped up, showing a rare excitement. "We must get you to the Lord and Lady!"
Gil-galad stepped forward and laid a hand on Haldirís sleeve. "Nay, Haldir, stop. You do not understand." He broke off, unsure himself what explanation to offer.
Haldir looked uncertainly at the King. "Understand what, Sire? What is wrong, are you not well, HÓren?"
Gil-galad sighed, his joyous reunion with Arda temporarily shadowed by the impending intrusion of reality. "I am well, Haldir. And you are correct, the Lord and Lady must be informed." Gil-galad picked up the cloak the Valor had provided for him when he was returned. "Lead on, Marchwarden."
Haldir silently shook his head at the questions in his brothersí, Rķmil and Orophin, eyes, indicating that now was not the time. He sensed that all was not as it seemed with the High Kingís return, and he would wait for his Ladyís wisdom before making up his own mind on what this might mean for Arda. But that did not prevent him from sneaking peeks at the High King from the corner of his eyes. The King was looking around, not making an effort to conceal the joy on his face as he beheld the Golden Wood once again. The trip to Caras Galadhon, was made in silence, the Galadhrim in awe of the returned Elf, the majesty of the once High King still very much evident. A few, like Haldir, had fought in the Last Alliance and knew the High King from old, but they were few in number. That terrible battle had greatly reduced the number of Elven warriors.
As the party approached the royal talon, Haldir worried over the shock their visitor would impart on the Lord and Lady, but what warning could he have sent? This was not the news for a message, but something that could only be believed with oneís own eyes.
Gil-galad marveled at the changes Celeborn and Galadriel had brought to Lůrien. Truly the power of Galadrielís Ring in Lothlůrien was dazzling. But as the royal talan loomed closer, Gil-galad became worried. What to say? What explanation could he offer that would not violate the rules laid down by the Valar?
The Lord and Lady were frozen in astonishment as they gazed upon the face of their visitor. Their steps halted halfway down the royal pavilion. Gil-galad observed their expressions. Celebornís eyes contained shocked joy, but a glimmer of apprehension could be seen in Galadrielís expression. Gil-galad turned to his escort. "Leave us, Haldir," he ordered. Haldir gave an uneasy glance at his rulers and received a faint nod from Celeborn. He departed, but not without some hesitation, for he too had seen his Ladyís fear.
Gil-galad silently waited for the pair to overcome their emotions. He gratefully accepted the embrace Celeborn pulled him into. He moved to his cousin and took Galadriel into his arms. She trembled in his embrace and drew back to stare deeply into his eyes. "The mirror revealed nothing of this to me," she exclaimed.
"It was the Valarís will," Gil-galad explained.
Celeborn joined the pair, studying Gil-galadís face in wonder. "But, w-why and h-how?" he said, clearly not fully recovered from the shock.
Gil-galad looked solemnly at them. "I cannot tell you why."
"Cannot, or will not?" Galadriel asked, some suspicion in her voice. She stepped back, the unease returning.
Gil-galad looked at his cousin. He could see her hesitation and unease, but could do little to alleviate it. The Valarís rules were clear; none were to be told the reason he had been allowed to return. Celeborn watched the silent exchange between his wife and Gil-galad. He knew there were explanations forthcoming and he dreaded the questions Gil-galad would ask. "Come," he said. "You are probably weary and in need of refreshment." Any discussion that was sure to follow would be better served by the privacy of their rooms and not in the open royal pavilion.
Gil-galad followed, barely able to contain the words that sought to pour from his lips. Now that he was in their presence, he had to know. He waited and took the seat and the wine Celeborn offered. He even closed his eyes for a moment and just savored the taste, as well as the very thought, of wine filling his mouth once more. But his thoughts returned to the actions of the pair before him. He opened his eyes, the dark blue orbs pinning his kinswoman in place.
"You did not wait very long, did you? Did you have it planned along?" he demanded, the words growing harsher.
Galadrielís face blanched, her milky complexion becoming even more wan. But she did not back down. "Speak plainly, Gil-galad. What are you accusing me of?" But she knew very well what the High King spoke of.
Gil-galad rose and stood directly in front of her, his large frame towering over his smaller cousin. Each word was carefully articulated, the anger evident. "Was it your scheme all along to marry him to your daughter? There, is that plain enough, Galadriel?" His eyes never left the lighter blue of hers. Yes, Galadriel was powerful and far-seeing, but Gil-galad was not without power of his own and no lie could she tell him that he could not see through.
Galadriel raised her chin. She spoke without any regrets. "He needed heirs, heirs that have an important role to play in Ardaís future. This I did see in my mirror. After your death, even though he did not accept your Kingship, it was even more imperative that the line continue."
Gil-galad turned away, and it was with great sadness that he whispered, "And yet, it is those very heirs that you speak of, that will break his heart again." Gil-galad flinched. He knew he should not have voiced that doom out loud. The Valar had warned him not to speak of it!
It was Celeborn that spun the High King around, urgency upon his face. "What is this you speak of? Those are my grandchildren, Gil-galad! If the Valar have revealed something to you about the twins or Arwen, I demand that you tell me. We have a right to know!"
Gil-galad only looked steadily at Galadriel. "Ask your wife, Celeborn. Ask her what the fates have in store for those precious heirs." With that, Gil-galad turned and walked out. Finding the Marchwarden guarding the doors, he stopped and looked closely at the Galadhel. He could read in Haldirís face the he had heard some of what had been said, and that the guardian would not reveal any of it. Gil-galadís shoulders slumped in weariness, yet one more sensation he had to accustom himself to again.
"Haldir," he said. "I wish to rest. Will you direct me to a room?" He followed the silent Galadhel to the guest talan, shutting the door with a soft "Thank you." Gil-galad laid his head upon a bed for the first time in an Age, and all he could think of was the one who use to lie beside him.
To be continued...