Lothlorien in Twilight - Part 5

After comparing notes, the three decided to return to Galadriel’s Garden to see if more light could be shed on the situation, and to confront the mirror.

As they climbed down from the flet and walked warily through Caras Galadhon, Xanderian seemed very thoughtful...but more resolved and confident now that both Calidis and Eduwiges had returned. She held Cal’s hand and whispered softly to her. 'I suspect we are being both delayed...and led. Be very careful, my beloved.”

They noticed immediately that the city seemed deserted...and utterly silent'

Eduwiges looked around in horror, 'Shite, where is everyone? We are all going to die!'

Calidis shook her head, 'I do not think death is what our mysterious adversary wishes for. Yet, at least. She looked worried, repeatedly smoothing the skirts of her dress. However, despite the anxiety that creased her brow and made Hastaina glow at her throat, she seemed equally as determined as Xanderian.

Eduwiges squirmed a bit, adjusting her new armor as she walked. 'This thing is going to itch me to death. I should have worn a thicker shift underneath.” She looked spectacular in her new gear, however the status of the gift giver, Anglamel, had her spooked. 'How was that possible Xan? A gift from beyond the grave?' She looked at Calidis, 'Hastina did not even glow!'

Xan nodded softly as if something had been confirmed for her, 'I suspect my Lynx that HaStaina is not responding for the same reason your former comrade could give you such a gift at all...we are in between the mirror and the world we know. Neither alive, nor dead...effectively.”

Eduwiges looked a bit green around the gills. She shook her head. 'I do not pretend to understand all of this. I just want you, and us, out of it.'

Calidis smiled grimly, 'For once, I agree utterly with Eduwiges. We need to escape this and return to our friends. The longer we stay... the harder it will be to get out I fear.'

Xan paused at the ornate gate down to the garden., “You said you both looked in Galadriel's mirror?'

Calidis nodded.

The huntress paused, thinking carefully, then asked. “What did you see?'

Eduwiges looked at Calidis, nearly as pale as her friend, 'She looked first..'

Calidis sighed softly and looked between the two of them. "I saw my father exchange his spirit for Addiela's, saving her from doom..." She seemed to hesitate a little, opening and then closing her mouth.

Xanderian tilted her head.

Calidis swallowed hard and continued, 'I saw Xanderian's death at Kheledul though I had not met any of you yet... Yet there was another Xanderian there beside her. She... had put out her own eyes. She reminded me of the Mistress. And then I heard Lilta, the bow Heartbreaker speaking. And the two Xanderians became one... Hale, whole..."'

Calidis looked deeply disturbed, but forced herself to continue. "I then saw myself in a mask..a silver mask as we saw in Imlad Gelair."

Xanderian nodded and pulled Cal into her arms, holding her tightly.

Calidis took a deep breath and then let it out slowly, the gem about her throat glimmering and dimming slightly. "I know not the meaning of it..."

Eduwiges closed her eyes and felt the twilight sun on her face. She put her hand on Cal's back to let her know she was there. Then opened her eyes in defiance and anger.

Xanderian kissed Cal's cheek and looked to Edu.

Eduwiges crossed her arms and gathered her strength. Her memory went back to the terrible moment when she was able to see what she had wanted to see, and yet after she had seen it, wished forever that she had not.  'I saw my father when he was murdered. I saw him swear revenge and that I would be his instrument of vengeance. He said my name as he perished. Then I saw my natural father, as he is now…a monster... He killed Daedre. I got to see them all destroyed and I saw Sarick and Daedre talk about Erach when they were young. It was a big fecking mess that someone is going to pay for!' she smiled a devious smile, and looked at Cal and Xan. “I have names. The names of the ones who killed my father, who killed Alfara were in my vision. When he was sick, old and had no chance they murdered him. I will find them and they will rue the day! They should have found me and slew me, for I will move heaven and earth to kill them.'

She closed her eyes and a tear rolled down her cheek. Her chest heaved, rising and falling, as her voice broke 'I will have my day of justice!'.

Calidis laid a hand on Edu's and squeezed lightly. "Not at the mortal peril of your own... We would not lose you to vengeance."

Xan nodded in agreement, 'I suspect, my lynx, that your road to justice for those who slew Alfara will be one we travel WITH you, most willingly, out of love...'

Eduwiges nodded, wiping her eyes awkwardly, 'I must follow through with my father's oath. He will not rest easy until I do. I should have never looked in that mirror.'

Xan peered down into the Garden. 'It sounds as if those images are true to Galadriel's mirror...our foes could not know of such details of your lives...I am not sure....but I suspect the Lady has been fooled in some way....'

Calidis pursed her lips, 'Think you then that the 'evil spirit' the Lady seemed troubled by is actually our foe? Not an evil spirit at all but one who has dogged our steps? And do you think the Lady will believe us if we... delicately and respectfully make the possibility that she has been ensorcelled known to her?'

'You know her better than we do, sweet Nighteye...what think you?' Xanderian frowned, already quite sure of the answer.

Calidis looked down, '... I think we may have a difficult time of it. She may listen to what I have to say... But I do not think she would relish the idea of being fooled so if we can avoid confronting her it may be best. And there is the possibility that everything we do here is watched by our enemy.'

Xan opened the gate silently. "I agree,  and therefore I believe we must take a bit of a risk...though in truth, if all is as it should be, what I am considering would not even be possible'

Xanderian walked calmly down into the Galadriel's private Garden.

Calidis followed closely behind and Eduwiges brought up the rear, her swordbadu druit, in hand, sheathed.

Calidis glanced around, brows furrowing as she noticed the usual guards were gone.

Xanderian moved to the Mirror itself and looked back at the other two."I have no idea what is about to happen....

Eduwiges drew her sword from its scabbard and prepared for the worst as Calidis stepped up to the mirror beside Xanderian but did not dare look into it again.

Xanderian set her feet, pressing her hands against the edge of the mirror...pushed. The mirror tottered, then fell to the side, water splashing across the flagstones like mercury. As they watched, the water turned crimson....and around them all those guards they remembered escorting them into the city would lay dead. The Captain, with several arrows bearing Xan’s distinctive purple fletching piercing his chest, lay slumped against one of the garden walls.

Calidis stared around in horror. "... Please tell me this is but another illusion."

In the sudden silence that followed her question, a sound would be heard. Applause. A man seated on the edge of the wall, short gray hair looking almost silver in the moonlight, was clapping. "An illusion? Perhaps...in some ways...more a "Might have been...or may yet be...." The man shrugged softly..."It is always so difficult to mix two worlds...the balance is the very devil...." He looked at Xan and smiled genially. "However do you manage it?'

Calidis nearly snarled. “DESAD….Save your assessment for later, cur. Assuming this is all your doing, then perhaps you ought to set it right now. My patience is running thin and Eduwiges has none left to give, if she ever had any.'

Desad, Deacon of the Last Breath of the Guild of the Unsealed shook his head. "Always so direct and crude, Daughter of Aegrod...You have none of your father's diplomacy..or your mother's gentle nature. Now she truly was a Lady at all times. And as for the shieldmaiden beside you, the less said of her typical behavior the better....'

Eduwiges raised Badu Druit threateningly, 'My friend is right. I have no more patience for your shenanigans. SET THIS RIGHT!'

The red robed man leaned back comfortably. Reaching out he casually plucked one of Xanderian’s shafts from a dead guard and twirled it in nimble fingers. 'All in due time...first we must speak a bit...I had need to forestall your wild ride “to the rescue”…so predictable…and this was the most convenient way as the door was left ajar. Your sister the Revenant really must be more careful. Xandilif made it a subtle but possible chore to turn the attentions of the Noldor Queen just slightly to the left...and divert the path just a bit.'

Calidis looked like she may have wanted to strangle Xandilif but managed to keep her cool while HaStaina at her throat glows brightly.

Desad smiled, the silver lines in his teeth gleaming. "The Noldor Queen was powerful enough to know I was now here, but not who I was...or what I was doing...but that is not surprising considering the nature of the Mirror of Twilights, and it's former Master. Even a fragment of a single manifestation could do a great deal of mischief.'

Calidis ignored all that for now, 'But why delay us? Surely one such as you would rather kill us first.'

Eduwiges gripped her shorter sword, Morinehtar tightly, the wish to put 'darkness slayer' to use, preferably right through Desad, burned in her mind.. Her green eyes flash, she watches Xan for orders, muttering in a low growly voice, 'I can take him Lethy...'

Xanderian rested a hand on Edu's shoulder. "Gently my lynx....

Desad noted Edu's rage but did not seem overly concerned....he looked at Calidis in surprise. "Daughter of Aegrod, if I had wanted you dead you would have been so a lifetime ago. You all have parts to play, now more that ever as your comrades have been quite busy in the North. Quite busy indeed. As I said, I delayed you because we needed to have a chat...among other things.'

Calidis stared at Desad, black eyes a bottomless well. "Careful... Our part to play in your little game may not favor you with the result you expected or wanted... I highly doubt this is just a simple chat."

Eduwiges gathered her senses and took a deep breath, meditating as she has been taught, two places at once. Her grip relaxed on the sword hilt, ready but calm.

Desad nodded to Cal as he twirled the bloody arrow again. "A “simple” chat...no...nor is it MY game...it is a game even older then the mistress of this charming glade and we all have a stake in it, and a chance to throw our dice. As a child grows older, those things which you never told them due to their tender years can slowly be unfolded to them....so it is now with all of you as the latest phase has been completed. The Witchfire is reborn and we can move forward again.”

Calidis seemed to go paler if that was at all possible.

Eduwiges growled, her calm deserting her again as the Deacon spoke, 'Your day is coming foul carrion of the dark, Bema will banish you and ravens will pick at your soul!”

Desad smiled affably again. "If it is any comfort to all of you, I also was once ignorant of true meanings...and as for your quaint local hunting spirit, Eduwiges of Faldham, even you should have the wit to know you are far, far past his feeble influence now. We speak of matters before he, or any of this were more than dark dreams. We speak of true motives....and the Lame God.'

Calidis raised an eyebrow, 'The Lame God?'

Desad nodded, 'He has many names...few of them I am willing to speak, but the Lame God will do.'

Eduwiges was not having any, 'Get on with it, stop bandying words and get to the point. We grow tired of your ceaseless yammering...'

Desad hopped off the fence, smirking. "My, you ARE uncomfortable, Shieldmaiden.'

Eduwiges leaned forward on her toes, ready for a word from Xan to attack. 'Nay, not uncomfortable. Tired of these games, what is it you want from us?'

The Deacon dropped the arrow and spread out his hands in peace. 'I will give you a very brief history lesson to put things in their proper place...since to be honest, my own time is a bit short as well. Many long years ago, at least long for you, Eduwiges of Faldham, at the behest of Erach of the Unsealed, I waged a multi pronged war against the witches of Aughaire. I won, decimated them, caused the last of them to turn to Angmar’s service, destroyed her heirs, salted their earth so to speak. However, I had been used....

Calidis remained still, fingernails digging into her palms due to how tightly her fists are clenched as Eduwiges rolled her eyes, crossing her arms and listening. Xanderian kept her head tilted, her eyes dark and unreadable.

Desad cleared his throat for effect and continued, 'I thought what I had done was in service of the Witch King and his Master...to whom I am sworn with more than blood....but I had been deceived. I was serving only the goals and secret agenda of the Infernus, Erach and his patron, the Matron of the Infernus who you know as Aganalu, once the Witch Fayna. You see the Infernus does NOT serve the Eye.'

Calidis was growing more and more concerned, 'Then whom do they serve?'

Desad lowered his voice, 'The Lame God...he who Sauron once served in his infancy....'

Eduwiges gasped, 'Morgoth?' Both Cal and Xan stared at the tall woman who shrugged. 'See, I listen...'

Desad nodded, lowering his voice still further, 'Just so, Eduwiges of Faldham…They seek to open the Gates of Night, and begin Dagor Dagorath'

Calidis looked actually fearful for once. "But that would spell doom for us all..."

Desad moved closer as even the air around him seemed to darken. 'With the Witches gone, there was no way to stop the rising of a new Witch Queen to push our fell Lord aside and then lead the forces of Angmar towards the true goal of the Infernus, against the will of Sauron...and I could not allow this. I had to undo what I had done…but if I did so openly, the crone Moyna would never trust me, so I had to be most circumspect. However I needed you to be a bit delayed so that the work of frustrating Aganalu's dreams could be accomplished by your brethren.'

Calidis frowned, 'But I imagine it isn't truly over yet... Otherwise you would not need to reveal all of this to us now.'

The Deacon sighed and picked a small flower from the rapidly dying garden. 'No, it is not over...so I took advantage of one of dear Xanderian's possible futures, very close to the surface of reality, to detain you for a bit and tell you at least a little of what you needed to know, for you are all involved in these matters, whether you like it or not. There are many forces in play now....as the age dwindles down.'

Calidis narrowed her eyes. "Let me make one thing perfectly clear to you right here and now...You keep your wretched, filthy, bloodstained, murderous, conniving hands away from Xanderian‘s past, present, future, and all other realities. Otherwise, I shall make certain that one day soon you will lack hands entirely.'

Eduwiges leaned laconically against the stone wall behind her, her eyes never leaving Desad. She heard the menace in Calidis' voice and smiled.

Desad laughed softly..."A suitably histrionic threat, child, suitable for a woman in what she considers to be "love"...after all, you now know what madness one of your blood can get up to. Look at father. You should be of good cheer, for sooner than you think, your dearest dream will be made reality. Or did you think my Master would have left such an unlooked for treasure idle all these centuries?'

Calidis glanced at Desad coldly. "You think so highly of yourself. You know very little of what my dearest dreams are in the now."

Desad shrugged and smiled. "So many daddy issues, and apparently an obsession with hands...if I were a more carnal man, the fantasies this trio would give me...'

Calidis glared, 'Perhaps not the hands, Eduwiges. Perhaps, for now, the filthy mouth instead.'

Eduwiges drew her sword and dagger in the blink of an eye, stepping towards Desad.

Desad carefully righted the fallen mirror and kept it between himself and Edu. Better safe than sorry. "But as much as I am enjoying this foreplay, I must be gone soon, and you have things to do as well. Just know this....as I said there are many forces at work now and many are flying false flags. The Infernus has broken away in secret and aims to open the Gates of Night while the Guild of the Unsealed yet serves my Master, at least for the time being...and the Guild of the Unexpected...well....the Unexpected are awake now and hunger…and care not who the dark lord is as long as their get their supper. Listen well now...you will need to repeat this to others. The Drunken Witch must find another shard of the ancient lights, it awaits her in the Crèche of Durin. This will be needed to keep the Unexpected at bay or they will overrun your precious green land. The Sage of Depths must master her gifts soon to face the Infernus on the Fields of Ash along with the Unkindled Maid. Also, beware the Sword of Ages for its part is yet to come, and it grows restive.'

Eduwiges smiled malevolently and edges around the mirror...

Desad circled and continued, 'Those who became two must become one...and the new gift of the Cenotaph will be of great importance very soon, for she can smell that which she is not. And Xandarian....sweet Xandarian. Until you finally get the nerve to look behind the mask, you will not know what your role in all this truly is...but when you find out, remember…that I love you.

This last taunt was too much for Calidis who pulled a fiery agate, aglow with fire as hot as a forge, from her bag and launched it with fury at Desad, uncaring of whether it would hit or not.

Feeling her movement, Eduwiges lunged at Desad, sword seeking his heart.

Both should have been solid hits, but they each passed cleanly through Desad as if he were not there at all, who would sigh. "You really must learn from your past mistakes ladies, or this is going to become gruesome."'

Desad smiled at Edu. "Child of the Blood Eye, give your father my regards...and remember. Words..and names...bear power. And one last thing...The Mirror of Twilight is a thing of delusions that even Galadriel does not understand though she thinks she does....it is not a path to Mordor....but to the Void...THAT is where true madness is bred.'

The air seemed to grow cold around them...and the light seemed to grow brighter...And all three were back in camp under the bows of Lothlorien, near the walls of Caras Galadhon…as if nothing had ever happened.

Eduwiges threw her sword down in frustration, 'Bloody hell!'

Calidis looked about herself and turned away from the others, blood dripping from her palms where she had gouged them with her own nails. She looked like she could barely contain her rage.

Xanderian sighed, having been suspecting for some time that this would be the outcome of their chat with Desad...and took Cal in her arms

Eduwiges retrieved her weapon and looked around, 'There has GOT to be a way to rid the world of him....and why does he always speak in riddles??!!"

Calidis agreed, 'I swear... one day he will indeed lack hands as well as a head. I can only hope that it is I who will have the pleasure of severing his neck!'

Xan looked at the two, 'My dear ones...look at the leaves...they seem more sparse then I recall…days have once again moved forward while we were between worlds.....we must recover lost time, I do not like the possibilities that the Deacon of the Last Breath hinted at regarding those we love. We must fly to Small Finchley.'

Calidis nodded and began quickly packing, some anger still in her movements. However, it was clear that HaStaina was hard at work easing her emotions, glowing as bright as the sun about her throat.

Eduwiges looked at Xan, 'Lethy, have we no control over anything? No matter where we turn Desad is directing our paths. What is the use?'

The elleth just smiled as she brought her horse forward. 'No my love...you did not see what he did NOT say, only hinted at...he controls nothing, he is as much a slave to destiny as we are'

Eduwiges frowned, 'Well I feel as if we are slaves to HIM, not destiny. I am with Cal. I wish to take him apart, piece by piece.'

Xan simply nodded as if she had suggested having tea, 'That sounds pleasant, but he is not the source of our pain....and he has given us much to think of.'

Eduwiges gathered her gear, she stows the packs on her horse Oenone and made sure her weapons were tightly bound to the harness on the mare. “Who IS the source of our pain? This Infernous woman? Aga-someone…the one who wanted to hurt Finchley?'

Xanderian smiled. "I fear that would be too simple...if what Desad spoke of is true, then the entire war against the enemy is but one part of a larger conflict....”

Eduwiges sighsed, 'Here we go again.'

'Whatever we may feel....we must get to Bree”. Xanderian swung up onto her horse as Calidis nodded in agreement, calling her horse over.

Eduwiges stepped into the saddle and thought of the last time they were in Bree. This time, she would swear to herself not to drink…much.