To Haldirith and an exchange of stories

Lusseriel was sitting next to the fire in Haldirith. She was the only one awake among her companions as far as she could tell.

She quite enjoyed the calm of the night, and she was quietly humming a song as old as herself when she pulled her journal out of her backpack.

"I feel like I haven't written in here in too long.

Looking back, perhaps it's for the best.

Since I last wrote, we tried to get revenge on the humans of Tur Morva and failed epically. I’ll spare this journal the many revenge plans I made and discarded or the foul mood I was in for a while.

This being said, if I survive this journey long enough, I'll return and get my revenge then. I'm an elf, I have all the time I want to put that village on fire with its treacherous people in it. I wonder if Ardirien would be willing to help in that particular endeavor.

Revenge is a dish best served cold, and I’m patient.

Bright side of our current situation, Andrahir healed well and joined us again rather fast.

Also I discovered that my companions are all suicidal:

- Andrahir sneaked back into Isengard to find his sword again with his peers of the Grey Company as soon as he felt well enough to do so, which is far sooner than any healer with half a brain would have considered safe very probably.

-In the Rohirrim camp we met a dwarf, Otheki Ironhand, that had just escaped being a prisoner from Isengard's people and wanted to attack his previous jailors to find his belongings again without getting gear to replace what was lost and without waiting to heal or rest…

-And it's Rolegard who offered his help first. Not to be blunt but he had no weapon and no armor worth the name as we were all still wearing our cast offs from the Rohirrims at that point.

But apparently logic and strategy are not words known among us.

We all followed that plan and somehow survived the utter ridiculousness of it.

-I was also seriously worried about Ardirien for a while there too. I still am to be fair. She had trouble resting, which... Sounds logical, but in our situation it leads to distraction and could have led her to death easily enough. We already lost one of our companions; I am not in a hurry to add to that number.

-As for Ilthirian, it appeared that during our last night with the Rohirrims, she had a vision. Andrahir did too, but he's human, I don't know how far he can really protect his mind. Ilthirian is an elf, and she wasn't born yesterday. She should know better than to stop protecting her mind when we're on a mission that'll lead us in very dark places, even if, or perhaps more so when she’s weary.

I think I may have started to get that vision too. Only if I can't keep influences out of my mind it disturbs me enough to pull me out of it altogether. That night I dreamt something similar to what she described. The rohirrim camp littered with bodies.

The only thing is that in mine I saw more than just the rohirrims, but also elves I've known and lost long ago. And after that I startled awake, and I wasn't able to fall back to sleep.

In any case, their vision seemed to have something to do with Nona and with Galadriel, so we left the Rohirrims and went in search of Nona. We found her and she agreed to come with us to speak to Galadriel. We followed her to say goodbye to her father, before travelling back to Lothlorien.

I think we were taking too long for Otheki for he left us to return to the Moria when we were waiting for Nona to be ready to leave her father.

The way toward Lothlorien was for once uneventful, for which I am deeply grateful because fighting for my life with an armor that's badly fitting is a nightmare and a half. I can do it, I did it during this journey, but I certainly don't relish in it.

I was looking forward to getting into Lothlorien. If nothing else, it was the occasion to get some good fitting armor back, and to refill my backpack with was I need, and get lembas.

And upon our arrival, it appeared that Galadriel hadn't sent this vision.

She looked almost surprised to hear of it and it's absolutely delightful to see her surprised by anything.

In any case, she talked to each of us at some point, before telling us she'd send an elf named Alfrohir to guide us to our next destination.

She told me something about darkness ahead and possibly something of the danger of pride. Also she told me that and here I quote: "not all the ways are as closed as we may think them".

And people wonder sometimes why I pay no attention at all to her prophecies.

To be fair to her I think we both enjoy our working relationship as it is. I may be wrong but I think she might do it on purpose. And I find it aggravating but I never waited for her opinion to live my life as I want it so it changes strictly nothing for me one way or another.

In any case, we had a little time to get new armor and bless those elves; they had exactly what I needed. The fact I often come through Lothlorien bearing messages may have something to do with that to be honest, but I'm glad nonetheless.

And I got Lembas!!! It’s always handy to have.

Also I picked more athelas and athelas salve. I have the feeling we'll need it... Yarrow and willow bark are good, and I have some too, but they don't work miracles quite like Athelas can.

In any case, I was ready to go, and very happy to have a new and functional and fitting armor and cloak. No new harp alas.

Next time perhaps. Though I'll admit I'm starting to miss it seriously.

I'm not quite sure what the others did while I was busy, but most of us had new armor or new equipment before we gathered together again to join our guide.

We followed him to a path leaving Lothlorien, toward Haldirith.

The forest is clearly suffering on this side. Oh and Ilthirian found a baby bear in a bush nearby the road. The animal seemed to attach itself to Ardirien. I almost feel sorry for her. The bear cub is cute at least. If that's the right word for an animal full of teeth and claws, more than able to kill a person with a single sweep of its paw once adult.

Bear apart, Ilthirian looked preoccupied. When Andrahir told her she seemed worried, no doubt fishing for information, she answered that Galadriel gave her some cryptic warnings and veiled hint.

Yes, that'd be usual for Galadriel. It seems that Ilthirian isn't in the habit of tuning her out. To be fair it might have to do with Galadriel being Ilthirian's queen.

It's always bad policy to tune out or flat out ignores your own leader.

As we walked on the path, Ilthirian asked me in Sindarin if Galadriel said anything of interest to me.

Well, it all depends on the meaning we give to "of interest". For my part... No, she didn't. I mean, she spoke, but I have no interest in cryptic words and aggravatingly vague prophecies.

Besides, quite frankly, I didn't need to have Galadriel's gift to know we're going toward growing darkness. I wouldn't be here at all if it wasn't the case to start with.

I however offered an ear to Ilthirian to help her resolve whatever matter troubled her.

She told me she wished Galadriel would speak plainly and that she wondered sometimes if she had forgotten how.

Because Galadriel once knew how to speak plainly instead of being a cryptic pain? That's new to me. If that’s the case, I think she got into the habit before I was even born so...

As we walked following Alfrohir directions by ourselves, Andrahir told us that it was going to be hard to locate a settlement of elves, and that they would probably only show themselves if they noticed that they travelled with elves themselves.

Well, Ilthirian and I were perfectly able to find the camp easily enough, thank you very much. It's not that hard, there's a road, follow the road, you'll find the camp.

Rolegard found traces of a campsite on the side of the road. A human one, definitively not an elven one. Apparently some rohirrims dared to venture in the forest. That must have been fun with their notorious distrust of elves.

As Rolegard spoke with Andrahir, I asked Ilthirian about her meeting with Galadriel.

She told me that Galadriel, who usually commented on every single little thing she can didn't comment on the brooch that Ilthirian wore. The one Andrahir gave her. That perhaps she saw nothing or she saw something and just didn't say. Apparently that silence unnerved her though Galadriel said plenty more to sort through.

She asked me what Galadriel told me so I told her the truth. That I wasn’t too sure of the specifics of what was said.

Of course I heard what Galadriel told me. I just wasn't actively listening. As I told Ilthirian: "The day she wants me to pay her any attention, she can learn to speak frankly. In the meantime I'll keep pretending to listen, and she can keep pretending she didn't notice my lack of attention."

Ilthirian told me that I'd have to tell her what's the source of my hostility one day. Perhaps. Perhaps not. It'll entirely depend on the level of alcohol in my system when she asks.

That's one conversation I'm definitely not having while sober. Or in reach of the Golden Wood.

We kept on walking, and I found the path toward the camp. As I said it's not hard to find, just follow the road toward the ruins.

There was a sentinel at the entrance of the camp. We exchanged a few words; he wasn't too keen on the company of men and hobbit and worst, a baby bear, in the camp. But Galadriel sent us and I told him he could discuss Galadriel's decision with her if he wanted to, but that wasn't my concern. Also he wasn't wrong about the bear cub, I suppose.

We found Fimloth in the general area the sentinel said we'd find her.

And Fimloth told us she saw no signs of the company we sought news of, and that there's orcs roaming the area, that they didn't have the number anymore to scout the whole area safely so if we wanted news, we'd have to find it ourselves.

For a change!

Also apparently some equipment was sent to the camp for Rolegard as they didn't seem to have anything made for hobbit immediately at hand when we arrived.

Speaking of equipment, Andrahir started talking about his new bow with Ilthirian. That was cute.

Rolegard was fast to appear back with us in his new armor.

It looked like it fit him well, and he seemed very happy about it. The color was white though and very likely unpractical to go unnoticed. I just hope it won't impair our friend further down the line. Also blood washes very badly from white, so it's generally not a good choice for armor.

But Rolegard seemed happy about the armor so I won't comment further on that. And I'll hope it won't hinder him later on.

As we were speaking of armor and such, Ilthirian told us she should change into hers as well as she'd been basically kidnapped and outfitted for her rank and a meeting with Galadriel on the spot when she arrived.

As I told her, it only happens because she lets them. They tried something like that once with me and I created enough mayhem over it that since then they leave me alone. But again, Galadriel isn't my queen and if I'm a messenger and always welcome because of if, I'm not living there, which helps me tremendously, I’ll admit.

Ilthirian confirmed for me that she noticed the court giving me a wide berth. Proof of their intelligence, we all live better pretending the other doesn't exist.

Andrahir asked us how much freedom we had if we disagreed with Galadriel.

Well, that's certainly a complicated question.

It depends on many things.

For one the galadhrim have known me from literal ages. They've known me as a healer, as a messenger, they know I have absolutely no problem going into dangerous situation to help if I can, and they respect that even if they don't like me, so I have far more freedom than many others would in my stead.

Besides, disagreement or not, if you’re useful enough, even if you disagree with every single decision of a leader, if you agree to be peaceful in your disagreements, generally speaking you’ll be left alone.

Anyway, when night fell, we settled around a fire in the camp.

As we did so, Rolegard found an apple in the hood of his cloak. Apparently it was a shire apple and Rolegard was very happy, though very surprised to find it.

We spoke a bit and Rolegard told us a bit about himself, and told us a story about his adventures in the Shire, apple-stealing with a friend of his called Belgo.

The story was captivating for all it looked simple.

I'm feeling a bit sorry for that farmer though, with two young hobbits finding it fun to go steal apples...

I do wonder how the farmers do in the Shire.

From what little I know hobbits love food. And I somehow doubt that Rolegard and his friend Belgo were the only young hobbit going into a farmer's field to steal a few things. So how do farmers do to still have produces to sell or prepare at the end of the harvest?

Apart from, obviously, investing in pitchforks and running after the little thieves every day.

At the end of Rolegard's story, Ardirien noted that she wished she had visited the Shire when she had the chance. Hopefully we’ll survive this journey and she can visit then.

Anyway, she then asked me if I had any stories.

In more than 6600 years, yes I accumulated stories, lots of stories. But my youth was spent in Beleriand, so I didn’t think I have lots of fun stories that wouldn’t totally ruin the current light hearted atmosphere. I was born in Maglor’s Gap to start with and we all know how that one ended.

But after a bit of thinking, in all fairness, all my stories aren't that bad. Even in Beleriand under the Shadow and the Curse combined.

Come to think of it was NOT a wise young elf at the time.

As Ardirien and Rolegard insisted a bit I found myself telling them the story of when I just started to learn about herb-lore with the healers and basically drugged the whole kitchen staff roster.

I don't think I used to journal at the time. And even if I did, it certainly wouldn't have survived the sinking of Beleriand anyway so perhaps I should record that here...


At the time I was still living with my family. My mother had died when we lost the Gap, but I still had my father, and his sister. I loved that aunt, she was fun.

Anyway, that's not the point.

So... We were just settling in Himring at the time. I was still very young. I decided I wanted to be a healer for some reason. I'd say stupidity of youth but...

Anyway I started to learn herb-lore with the master healer of the fortress, a grizzled old elf whose sole life goal was to terrify every single one of his apprentices.

But I learnt well with him or so I thought and I so I learnt about plants and I was so sure of myself that when they looked for volunteers to go, under armed escort outside the fortress to hunt and gather for food and medicinal plants, I volunteered.

I was trusted enough to not be assigned to a more experienced master and so we left a whole day to find whatever we could.

And it went fine, and we came back and I left the plants I gathered with the healers and then went to the kitchen to bring my bag of edible plants and give a hand with the cooking of the evening meal.

I used some of the plants I had for that.

One I thought was some type of mint... I cooked it into a sauce. And the head cook at some point came and tasted the sauce.

Nothing of note happened then, but then a few minutes later he started to sing loudly, and off-key. And then he jumped on the table and started to dance with little coordination.

And most of us in the kitchen... Well... the fumes of the meal cooking were enough to spread a bit of the... Cheer of the herb.

We found it mostly fun. And before the evening meal, under the influence of that plant, we were mostly all singing and dancing and generally acting like lunatics.

We finished cooking the meal like that mostly until someone came by to know what was the noise there.

The healers were called of course.

The herb wasn't mint. It was a variant of a plant known to lower pain but it wasn't used because it also lowered inhibition a tad too much.

The meal was... Mostly edible, though our princes weren't quite impressed with us that day as I recall.

I was banned from helping in the kitchen forever after that.

Also as I recall I was assigned to copy old tomes of herb lore and to help in the stable instead for my troubles.

Rolegard told me that he heard of pipe-weed leaves that had similar effects, though he didn't think that grew in the Shire.

It's definitively interesting to know.

And I think that this tale somewhat convinced both Rolegard and Ardirien to not let me cook anything unsupervised, more so when I tried to reassure them and told them that I learnt better since that time and would definitively not poison them while I cook. Hopefully.

I can't blame them for their caution though. I know for sure what's safe for elves, but for humans or hobbits it's a bit less clear for me.

Well, the story seemed to have kept them both in good spirit. Even if it convinced them I'm hopeless at cooking.

Perhaps next time we can pull stories from Ardirien, Ilthirian and Andrahir…"

Lusseriel looked amused as she closed her journal, thinking back on the events of her tale. Oh her father had NOT been impressed when he was told. When she heard though, her aunt had laughed so much she had fallen from her chair.

Lusseriel noticed the amused eyes of another nearby and she grinned.

She had no shame for her past and if those elves eavesdropped and found some fun and light-hearted joy in their stories, she wouldn't call them out on their eavesdropping.

Lusseriel couldn't help a light chuckle when she saw the bear cub burrowing closer to Ardirien while she slept. That was a tiny animal heartbreak in coming if she managed to find out where to leave the cub so he'd be safe.