In the Midst of Adversity: Part IX
Almost an hour later, Aragorn sought Gimli and Legolas out to join the Kings war council.
They entered the tent of King Theoden where Gandalf, Theoden, Eomer and the army’s generals stood. When Legolas and Gimli stood next to Aragorn and Gandalf, the last group of soldiers entered the tent. Among them was Cyrene.
The soldiers of the group where all captains, who went down on one knee in front of their king and Liege to greet him. Cyrene didn’t kneel, but put her closed fist over her heart and bent her head.
Theoden walked over to the kneeling soldiers and bid them to rise. He smiled as his eyes fell on the amazon. “I have heard of your heroic deeds in the battle, amazon. You live up to the legends of the warrior women. Thank you for your services, daughter of Artemis”
Cyrene looked up. Her look was serene and proud. She bent her head again to the King of Rohan. “I am proud to fight under your command, Sire. The Rohirrim fought bravely a hard battle.”
Theoden smiled to the woman again and turned to the council.
“Gandalf has once again saved the day. I don’t know what magic you have used, but we have beaten the enemy.” There were joyous exclamations among the soldiers.
Gandalf said. ”I promised to come with reinforcements and I did. It was very fortunate that Erkenbrand’s army was so fast and we arrived in time to turn the outcome of the battle. The others who lent us their assistance were the Ents, an ancient power from long before the elves were in Middle Earth.”
Theoden asked, “Ents, are this powerful creatures our allies?”
Gandalf shrugged. “To find the answers to your questions you would have to go with me to Isengard. I am going back there with whoever wants to join me.”
“But even if we could gather the army together, heal their wounds and give them some rest, there are not enough men in the whole Mark to attack Saruman’s fortress “ Eomer interrupted.
“Anyway I am going to Isengard, but I will not linger there for long for my way leads me now east, to Edoras, before the new moon,” said the wizard.
“No,” said the king, “ I might have doubted you in the dark hours before dawn, but I will not part from your side again. I will go with you if it is your counsel that I should do so.”
“I will speak to Saruman as soon as possible, and since the damage made to you was grand, it would be right if you would accompany me. How soon would you be ready to ride?”
“The battle has exhausted my men and I am also tired.”
“Then, those who have decided to accompany me should have their rest now. We will ride in the dark hours of the night, for from now on our actions must be kept secret. Do not gather a large escort, Theoden. We are going to Isengard to negotiate, not to battle.”
Theoden agreed and called his fastest riders who weren’t injured and sent them to proclaim the victory of the last battle in all the valleys of the Mark and gather all men in Edoras for the full moon. For the escort who would ride with him to Isengard he chose Eomer and twenty men, among who were Cyrene and five of her archers. With Gandalf would ride Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
When the council was dismissed, Theoden called Cyrene to his presence.
The woman stood again in front of the king, her head bent and her closed fist close to her heart in salute to the king in whose service she stood.
“Sire, I am listening to your command”
“Cyrene, many of my ancestors have not yet dared to make a claim on the pact forged between Eorl and Lysippe ages ago. I think now it is the time.”
Cyrene felt a shiver run down her spine. Theoden would call the amazons to help. And they would come, because it was their duty to honor the ancient pact.
“Yes Sire. They will come.”
Theoden came close to her and gave her the medallion with the white horse that Eorl had once given to the amazon queen Lysippe, and that Cyrene herself had given to Theoden when she had arrived at Edoras. “How will you get the message to your sisters, Cyrene? I want you to come with Eomer and me to Isengard.”
“I will send Dumetar with the medallion and a message to a friend on the coast, that will send notice to the island. I will meet the amazons there and guide them to you for the battle, Sire.”
Theoden reached to her and clasped her forearm as a sign of respect. “You are a great warrior; the Rohirrim are honored to have you fighting at their side.”
The amazon bent her head again and left the king’s tent. She had to write a message and find Dumetar as soon as possible.
Eomer was walking towards his tent to sleep a couple of hours before sunrise, when he saw someone sitting on the battlements of the fortress, away from the fires, staring at the decreasing half moon. He recognized the silhouette cut against the starry sky. He walked toward the steps that lead to the battlements, as he saw a lean shadow also carrying a bow approaching the one seated on the wall. Eomer cursed under his breath and decided to talk later to Cyrene, who was the one sitting on the wall. Having another scene with the elf, which was approaching her at the moment, was not what he had in mind when telling her about his feelings and asking her to stay in Edoras with him. He was a fool for not having recognized his feelings for the amazon sooner.
Legolas was sure that Cyrene could not hear him approaching for no human could hear an elf walk, except maybe Aragorn, who had been brought up in Rivendell among elves.
So he was startled to hear Cyrene ask, without turning her head, “What can I do for you, Master Legolas?”
“I wanted to apologize for my behavior earlier today, Mistress Cyrene”
“You do? Well then you are a very exceptional male, Master Elf, since all males are so used to confound women with possessions that they wouldn’t even notice their mistake. You are forgiven. Go and have your rest before the ride to Isengard”
She almost heard him grin. “Elves almost don’t need any rest, Mistress. Seems like amazons don’t bother to sleep either.”
She felt for a moment like smiling too. This elf was indeed distracting her from the dark thoughts she was trying to sort out in her head. The prospect of being with her sisters in matter of days was disturbing; she didn’t think she was ready for the encounter.
“I am saying my prayers to the Goddess, Master Legolas. Then I will rest.”
“Do you mind if I join you, Mistress? I would like to know more about your people.”
“My people? Would you judge us again by the standards of those who are different to us and by the old tales spun by those who never knew the amazons?”
“I promise to try not to judge what I do not know of, Mistress. May I join you?”
She sighed. She was not going to sleep. And maybe she just needed to forget her thoughts of exile and duty for a while. She nodded to the elf that carefully sat down close, but not too close to her. She recognized the manner. It was the same way she would have used by accustoming a horse to be touched by humans. Close enough to be recognized but not too close not to scare the horse away. *Smart elf*, she thought wryly, *but I am not a beast to be tamed*.
Some time later, Cyrene had almost forgotten her reserves about Legolas. He was a great companion. She had told him about the origins of the amazons and he had told her about the creation of the elves. She avoided telling him about the customs of the amazons regarding men. Just enjoyed listening to his tales and stories. Listening to his pleasant voice she felt at ease and relaxed.
Legolas was enjoying sitting in the dark next to Cyrene. Since he was curious about her and the amazons, he listened to her low voice telling him about ancient stories from gods, goddesses and long forgotten wars. He could tell the woman was exhausted and troubled but he also sensed she was relaxing in his presence.
While Cyrene was shifting, accommodating against the wall, she felt her forearm cramp. It was something she had since she was very young, the cramping of her forearms or calves. She knew her cramped hand wasn’t a pretty sight, so she hid her arm in the shadows while she untied the lacings of her wrist-guard to massage her arm.
Legolas noticed something was wrong with Cyrene, but didn’t see what was bothering her. He thought if he should ask her or just come closer, to see if he could help her, risking her rejection.
He came closer.
The woman had removed her wrist guard and thrown it on the ground and was slowly massaging her forearm, trying to unclench her hand. Her fingers were tensed, her hand looked almost like a claw. It was painful, but she would ease the pain soon. She turned her attention from her hand and found Legolas kneeling at her side, closer than before. He just reached silently for her hurting hand and stopped before touching it, asking her with a look if he might take her arm. She looked for a couple of seconds into his gentle eyes and nodded. Then turned her face away, as if embarrassed by the ugly sight of her cramping hand.
The elf focused on the amazons arm. By the clenching of the hand and the tensed muscles, he imagined it was painful. He touched her skin very lightly and started massaging gently the muscles and bending the fingers. He looked up as he heard that Cyrene had inhaled sharply at his touch, but her face was still averted from him.
“Is the pain subsiding, Mistress? Do not be ashamed about the cramp. Archers suffer these injuries often” he offered. “Even elven archers suffer them, when they overexert themselves.”
Cyrene was touched by the sympathy of the words. She looked back at his face, with a smile on her lips. “I thank you for your kindness, master elf. You have wondrous hands, the pain is fading now. “
Under his warm hands, the fingers began loosening up and the muscles of her arm relaxed. As soon as her arm felt like normal again, the effect of the elve’s touch on her skin, on her arm, began spreading to the rest of her body like the warmth of fire after having been in the cold for too long. Her senses began to tingle, aware of the closeness of this male. She put her left hand on his and stopped the massaging, lifting her right arm from his hands.
“I thank you again, for your assistance, Master Legolas. You have been a true and kind brother in arms to me.”
Legolas understood her wish and retreated to where he was sitting before. This woman was intriguing, fascinating, but he did not wish to rush anything with Cyrene. He sat back leaning on the wall, close to her and began singing softly an elvish lullaby. She laced her wrist-guard again, and folded her right arm into her cloak. She leaned also against the wall, and listened to his song. Slowly her eyes fell shut, as she peacefully drifted into slumber.
| Part X |
| Index |