Mailea (Eáránë) – from “In the Wake of the Nine”/Lord of the Rings Online
This is one of the last posts I wrote for the epic “In the Wake of the Nine”, which lasted just two weeks shy of a full year on the official forums of Lord of the Rings Online, and is one of the few forum RPs I have been involved with that had a definitive conclusion. Initiated, shepherded and championed by one of the best RPers that I have been graced to know, the Dark Elf himself, Morthoron, it is one of my most cherished endeavors. This post takes place immediately after the fall of Dol Guldur.
Her heart was stone. Her sensibilities had been carefully put aside, and her senses were keyed on nothing but the Lady. It was the only way she could keep from utter despair.
Those few moments as she accompanied the Lady through the black gates of the Necromancer would live with her forever. Not the sights and sounds, not the smells, nor the adrenaline moments of battle that had come before. But those few moments, when her eyes read the anguish in Ossian, and she perceived the fallen body of one whom she had known since childhood, one at who’s knee she has listened to stories of great renown and then had followed into one of her own; when she saw the tenderness in which Graylin cradled his fallen master in his arms and felt the depths of unspeakable sorrow and remorse in that embrace, her own heart seemed nearer to breaking than it had been since the day they had borne the lifeless body of her beloved brother from the wreck at sea.
The continuing march of the Lady had taken Mailea away, away from her companions, away from the one in whom she could have shared grief and taken comfort, given comfort. One glance was all that she had with those she had traveled with, fought with, loved, one glance and then she was past them and moving forward, leaving them, and for this she hated the evil of this place far more than for its snappings at power, far more than for the threads of discord it had sown throughout the lives of the land. She forced herself to focus on that which lay ahead, and on that to which she had been selected. Shield Maiden. Her duty denied her parleyance to grief, and her honor stripped her clean of all save honor and duty, and turned her heart to stone.
It was, in the end, what saved her. As she stood with the Lady and realized the vile legacy of the Necromancer, as her eyes bore witness to the evidence of such torture and pain, and her unerring aim grimly ended the suffering of those anguished souls beyond redemption to which the command was given, she was empty of all save duty and honor. Standing finally with the Lady at the final assault on the black walls was not Mailea, but the shell of an elf maiden, glorious to look at and terrible to behold.
Then the world shifted and a golden warmth grew as the Lady called upon the power of the Ring of Adamant. The air sweetened from the stench of rot and decay that had held before, the bright metallic sense of blood spilled and sacrificed was lifted and transformed to an essence of life that had been stunted but now was in full flowering. Mailea felt her heart filling again, and even had she desired to remain aloof, she could not, for all were touched by the healing grace of the ring and the Lady and by the wonder of the world, she no less for the great sorrow that awaited her. And as the walls of Dol Guldur fell, so did the walls around her heart that had been erected to keep her safe. For now she was safe; safe to grieve, safe to live again, and safe to bear the loss of those who would not. In the rubble and dust of that which once had held naught save evil and malice, now purged, she felt with the awe of new awakenings, the dawn of a new age.