The night was silent and calm, but the wolf knew that danger was near. He could hear the footsteps, still far enough away that the elven archer was unaware of them. He could hear them, and he could smell them; knew what they were. He remained silent, not yet ready to sound the alarm. His eyes wandered over the sleeping fellowship, those that he had traveled with for many a day. The four hobbits lay side by side, together as always. He thought that perhaps he would miss them most of all. They had been kind to him, had always been eager to share their food and their companionship. They were happy and carefree, despite the dangerous journey that they were in the midst of. They reminded him of the man he had once been, before love had shattered him. On the other side of the campfire, Aragorn and Boromir slept peacefully. Aragorn, who he admired for his heart and his soul. He had sensed in him, from the beginning, a kindred spirit. A man who understood the paradox of love, who knew where it could lead you. And Boromir, the man that Tristan hated more than anything else in the world. There was a wickedness in him, one that he managed to hide well. But the wolf knew it, knew that darkness would soon overtake him. And yet, he knew that he could not help the innocent ones; for fate would stay her course no matter what.
His eyes wandered farther, seeking the sleeping dwarf. He was snoring, as usual; a sound that would wake the dead. The wolf didn't think much of the dwarf, they had done their best to keep their distance. Gimli did not trust him, feared him even. And Tristan found the dwarf to be rather dull. He would not miss him, not in the least. But Gandalf, that was a different story. By all rights, he should have hated the wizard. It was one of his own kind that had brought him to the place he now found himself. A wizard who had put him into the body of a wolf, while cursing him with the heart of a man. A wolf with the ability to think and reason, to understand. And yet, he held no ill will toward Gandalf. He had found him to be an honorable and brave man, and hoped that the journey's end found him safe and well.
His gaze moved farther, to the edge of the fire's light. There, beneath a tree, was the reason for his hesitation in announcing the danger. Saqarra was sleeping soundly, curled up next to Legolas. Her head rested on his shoulder, his arms wrapped loosely around her. He was awake, as usual; his eyes scanning the perimeter of the camp. Tristan envied him, more than the elf would ever know. He envied his grace and his beauty, his skill with the bow. And most of all, he envied his love for Saqarra; and Saqarra's love for him. He had once been in Legolas' place, had once known that love; he knew it still. For it was a love that he saw everyday, when Saqarra looked into his eyes. And that love, the love that she still held for him, had led him to the most difficult thing he had ever done.
With one final glance at the fellowship, and the eerie blue light that now emanated from Frodo's sword, he arose. The danger was near, soon the archer would sense it as well. But, it would be too late; they were outnumbered. Lifting his head skyward, he sounded the alarm; knowing that destiny now awaited him.
The battle raged on, with orcs falling left and right. But still, they kept coming; emerging from the trees in waves. The fellowship fought valiantly, but it was becoming clear that they were outnumbered. Tristan roved through the onslaught of orcs, pulling them down and ripping them apart one after another. All traces of the elf that lived within him were gone, swallowed up by the savage nature of the wolf. Blood dripped from his jaws, lay caked and matted on his fur. As he moved, his eyes often sought out Saqarra; making sure that she did not become overwhelmed. Like the others, she fought bravely. Balls of fire whizzed through the air, setting dozens of the creatures ablaze. The air was filled with the mingled smells of burning flesh and blood; alive with the screams of the dying. It was as if hell had found its way to Middle Earth, marring the peaceful forest with its dark image.
In the midst of the carnage, despite the overwhelming reign of the wolf's nature, one thought still burned bright in the back of Tristan's mind. The pain had to stop, the suffering must end. For a hundred lifetimes he had walked on four legs, had followed Saqarra through forest and field. He had seen the pain in her eyes, had felt the loneliness that ate away at her. Perhaps they could have continued on that way for another millennia, had they not encountered the fellowship. But fate had brought them into Legolas' company, and there Saqarra had once more found love. And that love had brought the wolf the bittersweet knowledge that he had to set her free. He could no longer hold onto the hope that their love would find a way to undo the curse, that they would face the wizard and force him to give back what he had stolen. Their journey was over, and Tristan knew that there was only one way to end it.
A sudden scream filled the air, a scream that caused his heart to sink. He spun around, seeing Saqarra held fast by a large orc. He watched as Legolas ran toward her, his bow at the ready. But, the orc held her before him; knowing that the archer would sooner die than kill her. The fighting ceased, the orcs sensing that they had the upper hand. The members of the fellowship stood motionless, defeat evident on their faces.
"Let her go.", Legolas growled.
The orc laughed, a sound that held no mirth. His knife was at her throat, blood trickling from beneath the blade. Tristan saw his moment, the chance that he had waited for all throughout the battle. He slowly circled the orcs, who had know ceased to pay any attention to the shadowy wolf. Coming up behind Saqarra and the orc, he crouched low; gathering his thoughts. With a vicious growl, he leapt into the air. But, he had miscalculated the speed of the vile creature before him. In one swift move, he shoved Saqarra away from him; turning to the wolf with his knife raised. Tristan realized his mistake too late, his momentum driving him onto the knife; the blade burying deep into his chest.
The fellowship looked on in horror, as the great wolf fell. The orc stood over him, an evil grin plastered across his face. But his triumph was to be short lived, as Saqarra turned and saw the carnage. Suddenly, it seemed as if Saqarra vanished before them; replaced by an evil image of the beautiful elf. A ball of fire sprang to life in her palm, swirling into the form of a fiery dagger.
"You shall pay for his life with your own.", she growled; as the orc turned to her. The flaming dagger flew from her hand; driving deep into the heart of the creature. The orc exploded into flames, his screams shattering the silence that had fallen over the scene. The remaining orcs raised their weapons, ready to put an end to the fellowship once and for all. But Saqarra was now in no mood to fight. The wind began to whip around her as she called her power to her once more, the air becoming oppressively hot. In an instance, a wave of fire rolled over them all. The screams of the orcs drowned out the roar of the flames; dying out slowly. The fellowship, who had come through the flames untouched, looked around them at the charred remains of the army; stunned by the power that they had witnessed.
The sound of sobbing brought back the knowledge of what had passed, as they all gathered around the spot where Tristan lay. Saqarra knelt at his side, her tears falling onto his matted fur. Her hands wrapped around the knife, gently pulling it from his chest. His blood covered her hands, running down her arms and onto the powder blue dress that she wore. Tears streamed down her face, leaving paths through the blood and grime that marred her fair skin.
"No...no...no...", she cried over and over, the plaintive wails breaking the hearts of the men around her. As they watched in silence, the form of the ebony wolf began to shift; slowly melting into that of a beautiful raven-haired elf. One hand came up to stroke her cheek, his eyes locking with his. Her hand covered his, bringing it to her lips.
"Tristan, you must not leave me.", she whispered; knowing full well what his elven form meant.
"It is not so bad Cara, this dying. You are here with me, and I am not afraid.", he whispered; his voice low and sweet.
"Please Tristan, do not leave me. I love you. Please..."
"I know. I have always known beloved. And I have loved you with every beat of my heart, with evert breath that I have ever breathed. But do not fear, for I am with you always. No matter where this road takes you, I will be there by your side. Death can not keep me from you, this I promise."
"Tristan, I....I can not do this alone. I can not go on..."
"You are not alone beloved, you must know that. And know this as well. Love is the greatest gift that we are given, do not turn your back on it. He loves you Saqarra, do not doubt that. He loves you as I have, and that will be your saving grace. Namárie my love."
"No!", Saqarra sobbed; her head dropping to the elf's chest.
Her body shook with sobs, her hands clutching at the silk of the elf's clothes. The fellowship looked on, their hearts broken; their minds weary and forlorn. A chill ran through them all, a sudden and fleeting moment of clarity. No matter where they went from there, no matter where the journey took them; they would forever carry the memory of the exiled elf brought to her knees by the loss of the wolf. And the unerring belief that their time with her was at and end. Soon, perhaps in the dead of night, she would slip away from them. Leaving them to face the road ahead a little more humbled than before, and a little more determined to see the darkness driven away forever.
| Part 6 |
| Index |