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Respite in Imladris - The eyes that haunts me

  Many are the days that the Grey Watch keeps the roads of Ered Luin safe and sound. Long are the nights we watch the ravines of Rath Teraig, and keep a constant vigil to prevent the coarse goblins from wandering out into our domain. There is plenty of work to do, and we - the Wardens of the Grey Watch - we do it well. From the shores of Mithlond and its tall and proud watchtowers, to the great dwarven halls in the north, we make our way with spear and shield, with bow and arrow. There is a great comfort in knowing that our hard work pays off, and that the roads we keep are safe to travel for each and every one, traders to wanderers alike. However, the hard work does take its toll on the ever-vigilant wardens. As autumn paints her colorful scheme upon the world, turning green to bright red, brown and orange, and any combinations that one can think of, the spirits of the Wardens yearn for a peaceful retreat. And thus, as the winter approaches with a rapid pace and the air grows colder each day, and as the brightly colored leaves silently falls to sleep upon the ground to make room for the newborn in spring, so does the Wardens; they go to rest, so that when spring finally comes, the weary Wardens will be rejuvenated and their hearts and spirits full of hope and strength once again.


  For several years, it has been a tradition of the Herth to take refuge in the Vale of Imladris, far from the sea and far from their home. For what better place is there to seek rest in, then a peaceful valley, hidden by tall mountains and surrounded by scenic waterfalls that roar and spray their mighty waters into the many rivers that crosses the vale? And so, this winter, as in so many winters before and many winters yet to come, the Herth prepared for their journey in the bright and serene Duillond, and left with cheerful smiles a chilly, but sunlit, november morning. Arrangements had been made for the revered dwarves of Durin Folk to accompany the herth, and so they did - the company of dwarves and elves crossed the borders into the lands of the small folk, and onwards to the lands of men, where the company parted ways, for the dwarves wished to seek out the settlement of Othrikar in the northern reaches. We, the Flower of the Havens, the Loth-i-Lonnath, marched on towards Imladris with unhindered progress and with shining hearts, and soon we found ourselves in the wild - but still oddly welcoming - woods of the Trollshaws.


  We passed the great gorges of the Bruinen, and at the Ford, a fair and friendly face welcomed the expected company, for news of our arrival had reached the valley long ago. Her name was Turuviel, and she is to me the very beacon of light and enjoyment that always sparks up the waning flames of my heart. It was to her I pledged my love many years ago, and it was to her I gave my silver ring and received one in return, to my great delight. With my love at my side, we rode into the great Valley; one beautiful huntress from the house of Vanimar, and we, the weary wardens of the Loth-i-Lonnath, and soon we all found ourselves in the familiar, and always so warm and welcoming, halls of lord Elrond. But even for all its beauty and serenity, there has for some time been a certain dread overcoming me whenever we get closer to the Valley. It dates back to many years ago, when I and many other elves lost a good and beloved friend to some truly tragic circumstances. Since then, my presence in the Vale has aroused dark looks from certain eyes, for reasons I do not know to its fullest extent, but it is the way things are, and would so continue. And so this time would prove as well.


  Inside the Hall of Fire, where there was merriment and music, dancing and the drinking of fine wines, there were also the eyes that would forever haunt me and whatever steps I take. I'd be lying if I said that it did not make me uncomfortable and brings a stingy taste to my enjoyment of our time here. The night passed without any profound predicaments, and it was all in all a rather joyous evening. As I and Turuviel set our feet to wander out into the night and talk of any adventures that had passed since last we were together, we gazed to the stars and smiled at each other, with the kind of looks that only true lovers know how to gift to one another. We are often torn apart, but together still. The morning after, we rode out into the wild lands upon the High Moor. I had prepared a bag filled to the brim with bottles of wine, as well as the finest cheese and other goodies we had brought with us from Duillond. We spent the whole day and night out there, just watching the wildlife and contemplate all of life's mysteries, and enjoying the fine company of each other, just as we've done a thousand times before. As we once again returned to the valley the next morning, after spending the night beneath the stars, there was a strange comfort to be found. All of the previous dark clouds that had previously shrouded my visit to the Vale were just washed away, like water from a goose, and there was a certain peace I hadn't felt in the wake of Imladris for many years. It was somehow like making peace with a long-time enemy, and bear the fruits of friendship once again, if one could call it that when it comes to the relationship of a single person and a place. I had come to terms with Imladris. Would I be able to do the same with the eyes that haunts me?


  The day passed quickly, perhaps faster then I'd wished for. Turuviel was nowhere to be seen, as our earlier venture called for the care of our borrowed horses, as well as an upcoming guard duty for the mighty huntress, so it was by all means no surprise that my love was tired that day. I let her rest, and dressed up in my off-duty garb, with embroidered great swans and stars. After meeting lord Tindir in the Homely House, awaiting his own lady Himwen, I entered the Hall of Fire. The eyes that haunted me was there, as expected, and so was almost all of the herth, which I joined swiftly in hope to have a pleasant conversation, and perhaps a little wine. It did not take long until I could feel the dark looks being shot at me. After a great deal of constraint, and the fresh memories of the recent serenity that I'd found earlier, there was only one thing to do: seek no conflict, but friendship instead. And so I did. Daegond, or the Hound, is, by my standards, very blunt with his words and certainly not so diplomatic as the people I'm used to conversing with. Nonetheless, I kept up my cheerful spirit, and did not let it wane for even a second. He'd not get to me. Not this time. I do not know if my, hopefully, well-chosen words of peace and to let the past stay where it belongs would sway his mind and put his inconsiderate behavior to rest, but it did seem like there were ways to connect on a level that was not filled with pure anger and demeaning or spiteful acts from his side. Perhaps there is hope even for the gloomiest of spirits, and if there is, there is certainly hope for the world as a whole. The night proved to be very enjoyable, conversing with friends both old and new, and I was reminded of exactly how much this short, perhaps too short, visit to Imladris would rejuvenate each and every one of us weary Wardens and prepare us for the coming year. This is just what all of us needed, and perhaps I more then ever.


  There will be much to work on, no doubt, but lasting peace is not built in a single day, and never will be. Let it take time. I have all the time and patience in the world. It remains to be seen if he does, as well.