The Dragon and the Fox
Chapter 14: The Shadow Elves
As night gathered under the Mallorns the brightness of Queen Galadriel
seemed to dim. She cast down her eyes and began to withdraw from those
around her and to listen to a music inaudible to all the Galadhrim,
although Celeborn caught an echo when the Queen turned her dark eyes
towards him. At last she rose from her throne of grey-silver wood set
with amber and amethyst and soundlessly departed from even Celeborn,
and all the bright throng of her court faded away into the trees.
Alone then except for the silent company of the stars over
Lothlórien she took up a silver pitcher and filled it from her
fountain, and poured the sparkling water out into her basin.
In this mirror she had seen the slaughter of the Galadhrim at Helm’s
Deep; in this mirror she had seen Haldir struck down and that noblest
of all her Elves die. No longer could she look into this glass without
sorrow; even the Queen of the Golden Wood grieved, for none now were
untouched by war….
Yet still she poured the water, and sought to gaze upon those things
that were passing, or past, or to come. She sighed; so great was her
pride, so great her desire for knowledge….no wonder it had to be Frodo,
small and weak and unaccustomed to power, who bore the burden. She
would eventually have used the Ring..
The water suddenly became agitated, darts of light flickering in its
depths. When it grew clear Galadriel saw a battle scene, and suppressed
a cry of fear; had it come to the last conflict at last? But then she
closed her eyes with relief; this was not a battle of the present, or
of the future, but of long ago.
It was Gil-galad; she knew him by the insignia on his armour, even
though smeared with orc-blood. She knew his silver Elven-spear Aeglos
and the blue fire of Vilya the Elven-ring on his hand. She knew Elrond,
his herald, at his side. But then she shivered; she knew too what had
befallen Gil-galad, and she did not want to see it acted out again…
‘Why must I see this vision ….?’
The water rippled. Not, as she thought at first, from her breath on the
mirror. The image dimmed and grew clear again, and Galadriel saw another
part of the battlefield. She recognised another herald of Gil-galad’s; it
was Aralt, her own friend and healer. She knit her brows and gazed deep into
the water; she had never seen what she saw now, what had become of Aralt’s
Elves in the great battle with Sauron ….
When the two armies drew back from their first onslaught, and rallied,
Cróga awoke in the wasteland between them, stunned but unhurt.
The very ground smoked and flames still rose from the desolation.
Cróga looked for his lord Aralt, and for his friends. Some he
saw had been slain, but the rest were missing. He got to his feet. The
battlefield was lit by rays of sun as red as blood, struggling through
the thick black cloud. Where were Deis, Tuar, Duairc and Súgach
who never lost heart or allowed his friends to despair? Gone, but not
dead; Cróga could not count them among the slain. They had been
captured by Sauron.
Cróga looked to the West; there on the hill was the blue banner
of Gil-galad and there was Aralt his lord. But Cróga looked to
the East, and knew that his friends had not been slain, but taken, and
he made a choice that would cost him dear. He began to walk across the
smoking ground towards the hosts of Mordor…
The mirror dimmed, and Galadriel caught her breath with relief; she did
not want to see the fate of this Elf, drawn by Sauron into the burned
land. But then darkness fell on the water and for some time nothing
could be seen. Then it cleared again to a dark sky full of stars. No
battlefield smoke obscured it. The stars were reflected in a river,
dark and wide, and Galadriel knew it was the Anduin. On its bank a
figure lay in sleep, wrapped in a tattered cloak which the Queen
recognised to be of Elven weaving. She frowned. Surely this was the
enemy. A hand curled round the cloak was branded with the sign of a Red
Dragon, mark of their foes. But as Galadriel looked into the water she
suddenly gasped; the face was very different from that of the brave
young Elf who had fought under the Blue Banner. But even wasted and
scarred she would know Cróga, the Brave….
She stretched out her and on her finger Nenya, the Ring of Water,
blazed with sudden white fire in the darkness. She closed her eyes and
her lips moved. After a few minutes she let her hand drop to her side
and opened her eyes to see the mirror gone dark and cold. She said to
herself almost wearily;
‘Such help as I can give to the lost I give you, Cróga....Marfach.’
‘Get up, Elf scum! I am not carrying you all the way to Barad-dur! Get up!’
Greim was furious; he had thought luck was at last running his way when
their brainless leader had been slain by the Rangers and command of
their band fell to him. But an order had come from the East, from The
Eye; bring back the Elf alive. None that ever were sworn to the service
of Mordor could be allowed to escape; for if they got away, what was to
stop the others deserting as well?
‘Get up!’ Greim kicked the unmoving figure, wondering why Sauron
bothered to try to tame Elves when he had orcs. Some called them The
Scáthanna, the Shadow Elves. But however Sauron twisted them
they would still be Elves. And you could never trust an Elf.
Around him Greim’s orcs stood watching uneasily. They had run most of
the night to outpace the Rangers but now as dawn stood in the Eastern
sky they were beginning to weary of dragging and carrying the captive.
They resented being brought into danger just to hand over the wet and
wounded she-Ranger in exchange for this poisoned creature that had once
been an Elf…
Deep in a dark dream Marfach did not feel the blows of the orcs. The
strength Sauron had given him in return for obedience had almost
entirely ebbed away and only death remained. But then through his
unending nightmare a light fell, and he thought he saw a forest glade,
and in it an Elf-woman clad all in white. She turned to him and held
out her hand, and on her finger a star shone.
‘I give you such help as I can, Cróga….’