It had been my intention never to publish this excerpt of LOTRO/LOTR FanFiction. I wrote this weeks ago and is effectively a prelude to all the rest of Caethir’s story. Caethir and N’wyn Glinmaethor are characters that mean much to me personally and I was not ready to lay bare the soul of the girl, in particular.
And yet, the more I thought about it, the more I did not want to let a chance for others to also come alongside them on this journey. None of us know what tomorrow will hold and I did not want this chapter to go unshared.
A Fear of Lore
Another reason for my nervousness in publishing Of Glinmaethor and Galadriel was rooted in fear of not fairly representing the way Galadriel spoke. The Lady of the Golden Wood, as described by Nona (“Wadu’s Ghost”) in LOTRO’s Epic, is talked of as speaking with fair words but having an inner, fierce strength. And, having read this episode back, I believe this has been achieved.
Glinmaethor (roughly meaning “A glint/shaft of light that falls on a Warrior”, rather than Aurmaethor “A Warrior of Light”) lives a tension between being outwardly strong and having a strong will, against a feeling of being unworthy. Her selflessness has often come at a cost of not taking care of her inner being.
Caethir, on the other hand, has been flung from crisis to crisis. Events have controlled his destiny, leading to “tunnel vision” and a failure to see the bigger picture.
Yet both desire the same thing: to see evil fail and what they perceive to be “good” to triumph.
It is my hope that with this chapter and my other LOTRO FanFiction, that you be brought on the road with these two people. That you rejoice in their triumphs yet draw alongside them in their trials and defeats. And thank you for reading.
The sunlight was beginning to fade around the Golden Wood. Already the light that bathed the Elven sanctuary was turning to shadow and soon the evening stars would be the only natural source of light under the towering mallyrn.
Glinmaethor turned from the path she had been slowly pacing, contemplating with each step how the next few minutes, possibly hours, would play out. She knew this time her nerves were mastering the peace and tranquility she always felt when in Lothlòrien and Imladris.
Her steps took her under an intricately-woven arch of branches and into the perfectly circular garden belonging to the Lady of the Wood. Clothed in a silken blue dress and a black cloak, which was held together around her neck by a simple leaf-shaped clasp, her attire could not have contrasted more with the plate armour and heavy shield she had grown accustomed to.
She had had many homes and the Golden Wood was one of them.
Sure, Yet Unsure
She glanced down the stone steps and remarked the deep rose dusk reflecting off the water in a simple bowl upon a pedestal. The Lady herself was waiting, but Glinmaethor knew she would not be impatient.
I just wish my heartbeat would calm itself down, she thought, grimacing.
Taking a deep breath she slowly made her way down the steps towards the centrepiece of the Garden. As she approached, Galadriel turned around and smiled kindly at her.
“Glinmaethor, welcome back.”
“Thank you, Lady Galadriel,” she replied bowing to her.
“Come now, friend, this is at least your fifth visit. Such formalities are not required of you.”
“Even so, I wish to honour you,” Glinmaethor replied.
She could feel the Lady’s eyes on her, almost boring into her very soul.
“You honour me by your reason for coming.”
Glinmaethor had long since abandoned being surprised by certain Elven-folk so she simply nodded.
“You realise, however, I am likely not the person you should be making this enquiry of?”, Galadriel more stated than questioned.
“Regardless, I wish to,” Glinmaethor replied, trying her hardest not to look into those seemingly all-knowing eyes.
“And that is why you already show enough honour,” the Lady reminded her. “You have long been a friend of the Eldar, defended us and learned our ways. Some may even mistake you for one of us, were they less observant.”
The girl nodded in response, before swallowing hard through a dry throat.
“That has happened. It was…awkward.”
Galadriel gave a light laugh and, as though carried by the smallest of birds, it echoed and floated up to the canopy of leaves high above. Glinmaethor shifted uneasily on her feet, not wishing to rush the Lady, but also willing the Valar to give her the answers she desired.
There passed a few moments of silence between them and when Galadriel looked at her again, she dreaded she had passed a boundary.
“It is not mine to grant. But it is also not mine to deny.” the Lady began. “You realise what you are asking? Of him.”
“I’m not asking…that,” Glinmaethor stammered, struggling to keep control of her emotions, “at least I don’t think I am”.
“And yet, if what you wish comes to pass that is a possible outcome.”
“Possible, but not certain.” Glinmaethor countered.
She clasped her hands behind her back, her nails digging into her fingers. She had considered nearly every aspect of this meeting, but not everything. Or so it seemed.
Cutting to the Heart
“I did not mean to upset you, Glinmaethor – or Hana, or N’wyn. Or whichever name you are currently known by. I am a friend.”
Hearing her childhood name, Glinmaethor blinked back the tears that threatened to blur her vision.
“My first identity is… Glinmaethor, my Lady” she managed to say.
“No”, Galadriel stated softly yet firmly, “your first identity comes from your rich heritage, friend Hana.”
Unclasping her hands she wiped the tears away and fought for composure. How Galadriel was able to see everything and undo her, when she had worked for years, decades even, to build up defences, she could not fathom.
“So if you’re not asking him to make the ultimate sacrifice, which you know deep down he is willing to make, then are you making an even greater request?” Galadriel asked, frowning slightly as she studied the girl’s face.
Hana had thought this question would arise at this meeting but the answer was straightforward, a fact about which she was relieved.
“It is not for the Valar to deny the gift to the mortals, my Lady. I am not asking to deny my fate as a mortal. Even with the lengthened years of my kind, we are but a passing breeze to the Eldar.”
“I did not believe you had forgotten that, but it was important that you voice it. Nevertheless, there is something more you are considering.”
Glinmaethor took another breath and slowly let it out. The Lady knew what all this was about, but she was correct – verbalising her thoughts was the only way to bring them about.
“I am not asking to deny my fate, but I do want to determine how it comes to pass.”
“Yes, that has always been your way. It’s what makes you the strong warrior of light you are.”
The girl met Galadriel’s gaze for the first time since her arrival in the Garden.
“Only a small shaft of light.”
“Do not diminish your name, Glinmaethor. The smallest shaft of light can pierce the most deep, tangible darkness.”
The Temptation to Gaze Within
There was another pause while both gathered their thoughts.
“Upon determining your own fate, I must consider more deeply. However, back to the most pressing of your reasons for being here,” she intonated turning and motioning with her hand, “do you wish to look into my Mirror?”
“I do not have enough years to wonder about an infinite number of possible futures, when there is a chance none of them shall come to pass”.
Galadriel smiled again, understanding the wisdom this young Dùnedan Woman had developed among the myriad Elves she had served in her life.
“I know his answer, if I ask.” she blurted out, almost unwillingly.
“And you know he knows little of his parentage, so is not bound by another’s will?”
The girl nodded.
“His fate is his also own to determine.” Galadriel stated firmly
“I do not wish to impose my will, if it be against his”, which she knew to be true whatever her heart wished.
“But you know of his ability to craft small ships, I presume?”
After a brief moment, Galadriel raised an eyebrow.
“Maybe that’s the only thing you really did not know about him?”
Glinmaethor’s mind was whirring, trying to make sense of this new twist of a meeting that had already seen surges of emotion. Her legs buckled and she knelt on the soft, cool grass.
“I am undone, Lady Galadriel. I do not know how to proceed.”
“But of course you do. And I trust you to know you will proceed correctly. I said I would not hinder you.”
“But do you wish to?”, Hana asked raising her head.
“Not where two wills would be joined, no. I do not know the end of your journey. But I do know if you do not begin it, one more chance may be lost.”
Placing both palms flat on the ground, Hana pushed herself into a crouching position and forced herself to stand, though shakily.
Forget Not Your True Identity
Galadriel reached out and took hold of her left hand. It was a cool evening, yet warmth flowed from her grasp.
“In the midst of battle, do not forget why you fight, for whom you strive and of those for whom you would gladly lay down your life in order to save. Go in peace, Glinmaethor.”
Galadriel let her hand go and the girl turned, glancing back at the Mirror as if tempted one last time.
“You would not learn anything you do not already know, or suspect.” the Lady gently responded.
Sighing, Glinmaethor turned her gaze back to the way out of the garden. She made her way back up the steps, each footfall feeling as though dragging great boulders of iron along. The tears would come, but they would also pass. And in the morning she would be back on the road.
Annùminas once again, she thought. I guess it’s now, or never.
If the Mirror would have shown numerous possible futures, there was one choice she could make that would either create or destroy one of her dreams. But if she did not depart the Golden Wood for a few days, she would lose the opportunity to determine her future.
Once at the top of the steps and out of the Garden, she leant against a towering mallorn and wept. Tears for her past and for the present. Tears for tomorrow and bitter weeping for the mortality of man.
Tomorrow she would be strong again. But tonight, she was Hana.