Story by: Doviel
(Just under 900 words) – response for Legendarium Ladies April: General Prompt: “Estel Anim”
After the Elf-lord, Finrod, had departed, she sat in silent thought. Tears welled and fell unheeded. Somehow, she knew in her heart, she would never see Aegnor again. She wiped her face. He was lost to her and his brother had all but spoken his farewells. He would ever strive in combat against an impossible foe, and she would wither as she waited. They would not meet again.
The room had grown cold, and her bones ached with weariness. How long had we spoken this night? The night was nearly over. The sky was turning grey. She rose and her knee cracked. What would an Elda king think of that, she wondered with a wry half-laugh.
They could live a thousand years with youth and strength, yet already, after only a few decades, Andreth’s body was beginning to fail her though her mind was still keen.
She thought of the girl she had been as she looked down upon one of her hands. The skin was no longer taut and smooth. The bones of her fingers seemed too obvious. She was that girl no longer. She remembered the warmth of Aegnor’s large hand clasping her own and closed her hand into a fist.
She shook her head to dash away the memory and a loose lock of hair fell over her shoulder. It had slipped out of the gathered knot behind her head. She saw that too, more grey than brown these days. I am old. I would not want him to see me as I am now. And for that mercy, she had some gladness.
She went to her simple sleeping chamber and laid down on her cot with a sigh that, again, betrayed her age. Closing her eyes, she allowed her mind and body to relax, she thought of sunlight on the grass but then her mind drifted and she saw stars reflected upon the water. She fell asleep.
In her dreams, her mind saw the Shadow of the East from which her people had fled long ago. She imagined the House, foolishly built for the Enemy, though they had been beguiled and thought he was their teacher.
She imagined the fires and the fear, but her mind drifted, the Shadow was now in the North. Did it follow them or did they follow it? She stood before the darkness, not in fear, but in thought.
She considered its purpose and found none. The great Enemy wished only to destroy and would have a world of nothing. He was no king, no lord, and surely, no god. Finrod had been right though she had not fully believed him at the time.
She thought then of the One and her dream drifted. Many things were seen that she did not understand and moved in the strange way of dreams, disconnected and out of order.
There was battle and strife, darkness and fire, for an Age unending. The din of battle roared in her ears like the ocean in a storm. But towards the end of the chaos, she suddenly saw nothing. All was engulfed in clouds and shadow. All was silent. Then a pale light shone within the haze.
Slowly, as a misty fog melts away beneath the morning sun, a world after the world appeared, and she stood within it.
A world set right. A world healed and made whole. This was the task of the Secondborn.
Men were home and at peace within themselves. The Voice spoke in their minds and hearts again, and it was heeded. They had earned redemption and been forgiven. It was not folly. It would be.
When the Eldar had awoken again, they were as kin and dear friends with her own people. And among the fair folk she sought for a face, beyond all others–a man whose golden hair rose up and fell about his face and shoulders like bright flames. She searched and could not find him.
Her heart ached. She could not breathe. Where was he? But then, from behind, a hand clasped her small shoulder, large and warm, and she touched that hand with her hand. She knew it was his.
Before she could turn about to see him, she awoke with a start. Realizing the deception at once, she cried out his name and wept bitterly. She touched her shoulder, there was no hand there though it felt recently clasped, and she keened. Stifling her cries against her arm, she choked on her tears.
“Bitter dreams!” she cursed. “Horrible, bitter dreams! To show me my heart and then snatch it from me!”
She fell back, exhausted from her weeping. What world is this? What place is here where joy is only found in the mist of dreams!
She tried to ease her breathing and calm herself. The tight pain in her chest was sharp and her ribs ached from it. But she calmed herself in time and the pain released.
She reflected on her vision. She thought on the world that had become from the ashes of the one where she now dwelt.
She thought of her people and the Eldar mingling together in harmony and realized, in that world, she would not perish, nor age unjustly while he remained in youth, and in that world, they could be as one.
For that wish, which her dream had shown her, she put faith into Finrod’s words; if that world could be, she would hold hope for it.