Hey guys, this is just a short little blip of a story I thought up when going through Volume 3, Book 7, Chapter 7 of the Epic Book Quests. SPOILERS for those who haven't reached this. It occurs when you and your little group come from Lothlorien up the river Anduin to help the Fellowship since Galadriel thinks they're in danger. Here goes!
Gwinthilnel sat on a large rock near Parth Galen, gazing out at the Anduin but not really seeing it. She was deep in thought and lost in recent memories...difficult memories.
Rodwen, an adventurer from Gondor who was currently staying in the area with her band of travelers, came to sit quietly beside Gwinthilnel. She noted the sad, regretful look on the Elf's face and wondered what it meant. "You seem troubled my friend," she spoke quietly.
Gwinthilnel sighed softly, "There is much in this world to be troubled with Rodwen."
"Yes...that is true, but I sense there is something specific that saddens you." Rodwen turned to face her, "There is no shame in sharing your troubles with those willing to listen Gwinthilnel."
"I suppose I am unsure where to begin." Gwinthilnel replied. "The events are tragic and I believe could have been prevented, had my actions differed from the path I chose to take with my companions."
"Start from when you entered these lands. What was your purpose?"
Gwinthilnel finally turned to face Rodwen, "That I cannot fully divulge, but I can speak in generalities. The group I traveled with was sent on a mission to find and aid a small party of adventurers on an important mission. We were told they may be in danger and needed to find them with great haste." The Elf paused, taking a swig out of her waterskin, a sign Rodwen deduced was more of a stall tactic than an actual need of water.
"So you set on your journey from where?"
"We started off in Lothlorien, the land of the Galadhrim and the fair but powerful Lady Galadriel. It was she who sent us on this mission."
Rodwen's eyes widened in shock. "I have heard of this Elf queen, in stories only, which framed her as some sort of witch with terrible powers."
"You would be mistaken in some respects," Gwinthilnel murmured, chuckling softly. "She is powerful, but is no witch or creature of evil. However this is not the focus of my tale." She stood now, walking closer to the edge of the water and staring into its clear depths, as if to find the words she needed. Rodwen rose and followed.
Gwinthilnel continued, "We took boats down the Anduin and eventually came to the majestic Argonath. It is here I believe I made my biggest mistake. Horn, our Rohirric companion, mentioned there was a Rohirric camp nearby led by a captain named Mansig. He said that the people there were most likely in need of aid as the camp is situated in a precarious area called the East Wall, swarming with orcs and Uruk-Hai."
"So you helped them, as you have helped us?"
The hero nodded, "We helped them with whatever they needed, whether it be defeating the swarms of Uruk-Hai or tracking down wayward horses and travelers. It is almost an instinct for me to help others when they are unable to help themselves."
"Well that is a redeeming quality Gwinthilnel, one that I am grateful for." Rodwen was startled by the sudden look of fury on the Elf's face and involuntarily took a step back.
Gwinthilnel noticed the Gondorian's action and apologized, "I am sorry Rodwen, this anger is not directed at you. In fact, I'm not certain for who it is aimed...except for me."
"I take it you feel helping these people deterred you from your main mission?"
Nodding sadly, the Elf spoke softly, "Indeed it did, and to the detriment of those we were sent to protect." Gwinthilnel wiped a stray tear away, willing herself not to cry. "I investigated a hill recently named Dead Orc Glade at the request of Captain Mansig and was shocked to discover the signs of a massacre of Uruk-Hai. The bodies of the fell creatures were scattered all over the hill, and I could sense they had been slain very recently, perhaps even earlier that day. There was a Uruk who yet lived but was dying, and he told me some of what happened. A great warrior had slain these Uruks, just one man. I was shocked; who could this man be who was capable of killing so many, and where was he now?"
Rodwen stood captivated by the tale and unable to look away from the Elf's fair face. "Where was he?"
"I was not certain so I continued to investigate. The Uruk said the warrior and his companions who arrived after the massacre were all killed, but no human bodies were to be found. The way he described these people made them sound like 3 of those in the Company and made me pay closer attention. I noted footprints along the ground and followed them to a handful of arrows and a blood-stained tree...covered in what was human blood." Gwinthilnel swallowed thickly, "That was my first clue something was terribly wrong."
Gwinthilnel began pacing as she continued her tale, "I continued to follow the footprints and came across a boat tucked neatly next to a waterfall, hidden from those not looking for it. There was also a pack of supplies, including a cloak from Lorien and some crumbled Lembas, which is a waybread meant to feed travelers. I could tell it was one that belonged to one of the members of the group. I continued forward, past this very spot and noted another Lorien boat on the opposite shore which was empty. One or more of the travelers had crossed the river, probably in haste to escape the situation they were in."
It was at this moment that Rodwen sensed the climax of the tale approaching, the moment that caused Gwinthilnel such guilt. "Were you able to deduce the full story with the clues you had collected?"
Instead of answering, Gwinthilnel suddenly grabbed a random rock on the riverbank and threw it as hard and far as she could into the Anduin. Rodwen could sense her guilt and anger as the Elf sank to the ground, tears beginning to fall. The woman quietly joined her on the bank, putting a comforting arm around her. They sat in silence for a short time, Gwinthilnel crying quietly. When her tears were spent, she gently pulled away.
Taking a shaky breath Gwinthilnel spoke, "I realized I had been too late to aid the travelers...to aid my friends. If only I hadn't taken the time to run off and help the Rohirrim I could have reached them in time; I could have saved them from their fates!"
"You cannot be certain your presence would have changed the outcome; in fact, you or your companions could have been hurt or killed on your errand."
"It was our mission to reach them, to save them from their dire situation...yet we were distracted by something that could have waited, something that was not the goal the Lady assigned to us." Gwinthilnel looked drained and grief-stricken. "I failed them," she whispered, almost too quietly for Rodwen to hear.
"I am sorry Gwinthilnel, your tale brings me sadness. If only we could return to the past and change things! Unfortunately what has happened is what has come to pass, and we cannot change it. We can only move forward. Is there any sign of where your friends may have gone next? Perhaps you could continue to follow their trail."
Gwinthilnel looked thoughtful, "As I mentioned, I noticed a boat across the river, one that could hold 1 to 3 passengers, so it is probable some of the group went that way to continue their journey. As for the rest I do not know." The Elf stood, "Perhaps I should relay my tale to those in my traveling party and see if they have heard anything that could be related to it." Gwinthilnel turned to Rodwen and placed a hand on her shoulder, "Thank you for listening to my troubles Rodwen. I hope that helping your group regain its leader can somehow repay you."
"There is nothing to repay friend, you have done more than I could have hoped for in regards to our troubles. Farewell and I wish you luck in your endeavors to find your friends."
Smiling slightly, Gwinthilnel nodded and mounted her horse, spurring her north and toward Mansig's Encampment, hoping for answers to her many questions. Rodwen was right; it was time to move forward and do what can be done to help the rest of the Fellowship succeed. She may never be fully able to let go of her guilt, but Gwinthilnel decided to push it aside for now.
There was work to be done.
That's it, hope you enjoyed it!