Feb. 13, 2003
[Note: Happy Valentine's Day to all the lovers in the Guild :}]
“But Arwen went forth from the House, and the light of her eyes was quenched, and it seemed to her people that she had become cold and grey as nightfall in winter that comes without a star. Then she said farewell to Eldarion, and to her daughters, and to all whom she had loved; and she went out from the city of Minas Tirith and passed away to the land of Lorien, and dwelt there alone under the fading trees until winter came.
There at last when the mallorn-leaves were falling, but spring had not yet come, she laid herself to rest upon Cerin Amroth…”
Far she walked on paths well trodden.
her was a path, but behind was only mist. As she walked, she saw
she knew once were. She saw herself in her childhood in the Vales
Imladris, where she ran carefree with her brothers. She saw her
concerned as the North Kingdom fell to the Witch-King. Many years
she walk through, and she saw them again as she walked.
Then she saw him. Their first meeting in Imladris, when he was but a score of years. Far younger was he than Arwen. Estel was I called, but I am Aragorn… Then she was swept off to Lothlorien, where she sat under the trees. She looked up, and saw someone walking toward her. An Elf-Lord he appeared to be, clothed in silver and white, with a cloak of elven-grey and bearing a gem on his brow that shone like a star. Then she knew she loved him, and the choice was made…
On she went, walking through her memories, until near the end she once again halted. There she knelt by him, crying, as he spoke his last words. Let us not be overthrown at the final test, who of old renounced the Shadow and the Ring. In sorrow we must go, but not in despair… He kissed her hand and fell into sleep. In vain she called to him Estel, Estel! Then she passed through it all, and she stood upon the Gates to Mandos. The enormous doors slowly creaked open, and through them came a Maia,. He bowed to Arwen, and motioned to the door.
“This way Milady. Lord Namo is expecting you.”
Arwen stepped through the doors, followed by the Maia. The doors drew closed. Before her was a great corridor. Lanterns hung from hooks in the walls. No turns to either direction could be seen. Only a single door could be seen at the far end of the hall. The Maia motioned for Arwen to follow.
As they walked, the Maia asked Arwen questions about her life in Arda, and of what she enjoyed while there. As they drew near the end of the corridor, the Maia asked one final question. “Is there anything you regret?”
Arwen thought for a moment, recalling her life as she had seen it on her journey to Mandos. Finally, she said, “No.”
The two came to the end and stood before the great door. The Maia halted before opening it. “I have walked with you this far,” he said, “ but I am not permitted beyond. Those who go before Namo must do so alone. Fare well, Lady Arwen of Minas Tirith! May you find what you seek.” The Maia opened the door, and with a final bow from him, Arwen walked through the door.
“Come, Arwen Undomiel,” boomed a voice from the far end of the Chamber. Lanterns lined the walls on either side, but they did not give off enough light to illumine the center. There was a throne at the far end, and to either side there was a door. Each led to a separate hall. He who sat on the throne between poured the light that revealed the Chamber’s entirety, from the carpet leading to his throne to the ceiling’s dome several spans above. It was night in the world outside. Arwen’s eyes strayed upwards for only an instant, then they came down to look upon Namo, Lord of Mandos, Doomsman of the Valar. Arwen approached him.
“Hail and well met, Lady Arwen of Minas Tirith,” Namo said when she was before his throne. “It has been many years since Luthien Tinuviel stood before me. Indeed, your doom has not been too unlike hers. You surrendered immortality for love. Think not that such a thing has been done in vain, for you, better than even I, should know well the fruits brought forth from your choice. Yet your doom is to leave here, and that time will not be far off. Take counsel with yourself, and be prepared to leave when you are called. He motioned to a door, and she went through. She was in the Halls of Man. Many halls there were. A Maia came and led her to a vacant chamber where she awaited her time. She spent much of the waiting in thought, remembering her life.
Indeed, it was not long before Arwen was once again summoned to come before Namo. “The time has come for you to depart, Lady Arwen. Remember us fondly, for we shall not meet again until the End.” Namo rose and bowed, and Arwen returned the bow. She walked once again through the Halls of Man, but she no longer needed a guide. Her path was straight ahead, to the end of the Hall, where now shone a bright light. It was not painful to look at, but beyond the threshold nothing could be seen.
As she came closer, she saw someone was standing there, waiting. An Elf-lord he looked to be, clad in silver and white, and about his shoulders hung an elven-grey cloak. But his face was what she first saw when he turned toward her from the light. He looked as she had last seen him, the grace of his youth, the valour of his manhood, and the wisdom and majesty of his age blended to reveal a greater beauty. Tears welled in her eyes as she rushed toward him.
“Estel!” she called, and fell into his arms.
“I waited for you,” he said softly into her ear. They embraced, standing there for some time without word. At length they released their embrace, and stood gazing into the light. “We shall not be parted again.” Aragorn took her hand and kissed it.
“This journey we take together,” Arwen said as she looked into Aragorn’s eyes.
Hand in hand they walked into the light, stepping beyond the Circles of the World, leaving behind pain and loss and care. For beyond Arda is more than memory.