Laenlis – Lord of the Rings Online
You know I don’t even remember what this thread was called – it’s been lost, and I only have a few documents to show posts that I had worked on and then added to the story. It grew out of the Middle-Earth Online/Lord of the Rings Online community. This one was again in partnership (if I dare call it that) with the incredible talent of player Morthoron, the Dark Elf, who created and drove the character “Aranethir”.
The knock on his door was sharp, if not loud. “Enter,” he said briskly, expecting an emissary of Lord Elrond or perhaps Gethron, for he knew he was not endeared to the folk at Imladris, even those who had empathy for his actions. So his surprise was evident when Laenlis appeared, looking worn but with a glow to her cheeks and her eyes bright (“almost brittle”, he observed). Despite that, the tattered garments that she had worn were gone, replaced by rich fabrics that accentuated her beauty, and her hair and appearance spoke once again of the greatness that she assumed, so that he was momentarily taken aback by her transformation. “Here is one who is indeed fashioned to inspire,” he thought to himself, but to her he merely said, “Lady Laenlis, it is good to see you returned to health,” his eyes guarded and veiled.
Quickly she covered the distance between them, and before he could react she slapped him hard across his face. “How dare you!” she hissed, her breathing barely controlled and her features pinched in anger. The blow stung, but held no real strength in it, and he stood there unflinching.
“I see you have heard about what occurred between Finglor and myself,” he said grimly.
“Heard?” she responded, her voice hard. “Nay, I have seen with my own eyes what you have done to him, unjustly accused and attacked unprovoked. He lays now in the Houses of Healing, unmoving – the closest friend of my Beloved, dear friend of mine own heart. Struck down by a guest in these halls, one I thought once as honorable, now known as a viper, intent only on fulfilling his own vile desires for a self-appointed and loathsome revenge!”
His own temper flared, but he remained impassive. “I stand by my beliefs,” he said simply, but a touch of anger leaked into his tone.
“Your beliefs?” Her voice rose in pitch and intensity. “Are they truly your beliefs, sir, or merely a way for you to hide your shame at your own failure?”
He did flinch slightly at that, but did not rise to her words. Instead, he said flatly, “Your Captain is a coward and a murderer.”
“Then so are all soldiers who follow orders,” she responded coldly.
“Not all,” Aranethir said, with a chill in his voice.
“There were ignoble deeds done on both sides,” she countered, “and ignoble deeds that led to them.”
He almost lost his composure then. “They were but babes, Laenlis,” he said, in barely a whisper, yet his voice did betray the great emotion the still swelled within him.
“And Finglor will pay for his part,” she said, undaunted. “But murder is not in him.”
“Even if he did not land the killing blow, he nevertheless left them in the wilderness, and none ever heard from them again,” he insisted, his anger now growing against her defense.
“And if their own kinsman do not condemn Finglor, how is it you can claim the right of vengeance?” she responded, her own ire growing. “Their bodies were never found, and they passed from all knowledge. How dare you claim murder, then, when others closer to them will not! Is it truly vengeance you seek, or are there darker masters driving you, Aranethir? Ones that would sow discord amongst our people rather than binding together against a common enemy? Perhaps the great Eye gazes on you even now, that you would heap sorrow upon sorrow on those he fears the most.”
“Enough!” he roared. “I will hear no more of your ill placed loyalties! You know nothing of what you speak, coddled and haughty as you are! I was there, and I will have my judgment, but so will your fair, brave Captain!” His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides, as the sounds of horror and despair rang again in his ears, as they did so often since that night of madness.
“You think you are the only one who have suffered, do you, oh, great Marchwarden of Dorniath? That only soldiers have the right to rue the loss of all that they hold dear? You can with sleep your anger or worse each night Aranethir, and may it be a fitting bedfellow to all the days that follow you. But I will not be swayed against those I love, no matter how you try to besmirch them with your own bitterness.”
She turned and left him then, and walked with measured gait along the already hallowed halls of the rising Imladris, but her heart was racing and her blood ran hot. Eventually she made her way to the Houses of Healing. As she entered the quiet rooms, full of healing balm, she saw Alasse rise to meet her, but she brushed past the healer and moved to Finglor’s bedside, where she sat by the silent, ashen Elf, his face distant and dark. She reached out and grasped a cold hand in both of hers, and her tears fell.
“Oh, Finglor,” she sighed to the stillness of the room. “Closer that brother, beloved of my Beloved, deepest kin to mine own heart.” She stared at the still form and thought of the person she knew, the person who was tied to the happiest moments of her life, intertwined with her dearest Love. To turn from him would be to turn from her Beloved, from her fond days, to all that she had left to cling to. “You cannot be the one who has done such things, you cannot, you cannot…..”
Her tears continued to fall in the quiet night, and her heart grew as cold as the hand she grasped. The morning came but it was full of hard rain and cold winds.