The Dagnir Departs
Over the next ten years Ariel healed, lived, and learned with the Galadhrim with Arwen as her teacher. In return Ariel did her best to ensure that Arwen would not fall the way her mother, Celebrian, had. Teaching the elleth the way of the sword and bow. The elf was now at least average in skill. Not enough to go anywhere alone no, still... she wouldn’t be helpless as her mother had been.
That had been a story that left Ariel with watering eyes, arms wrapped around the darker haired elleth and left Ariel with an odd desire to go walking alone on a certain mountain path. She knew Elrond had searched the mountains looking for Celebrain’s tormenters other than the few that had been there when she was rescued and had found nothing. She had a feeling that a lone female elf would draw a very different reaction.
Either way, that kingdom of orcs would die. They would burn, and bleed. Their home destroyed, their people massacred. Ariel did not know why seeing Arwen cry filled her with such a terrible wrath but she would use it to destroy the Orcs who had caused those tears. They would pay, oh yes they would pay.
Before that could happen she’d need to continue being taught the ways of the peoples of Arda, Middle Earth in the common tongues. Rohirric had been... an interesting history to learn. She’d come close to storming off and beating half the men into stupidity when she learned of their chauvinism but held herself back. It was no different to her own Earth during the Middle ages. If she ended up there and anyone insinuated anything however, she would not be held responsible for his broken bones.
Ten years, that’s how long had passed since she’d saved Elrond and Arwen’s party from the band of goblins who’d attacked them with so few losses. It was time for Arwen to return to Imladris, but Ariel did not want her to go. She’d grown close to the peredhel in the years they’d been together, teaching each other.
Perhaps too close, in the eyes of those around them. Ariel had always been attracted to women as well as men, she simply hadn’t found any women in Sunnydale who’d been deserving of her affections, save perhaps Willow but the jewish witch had given no sign of interest, or in fact interest in women at all, till Tara MaClay had arrived. Her attraction for Arwen on the other hand, was one she couldn’t seem to avoid by telling herself that the elleth had no such affections toward her.
It was a very frustrating thing for the slayer who found herself in the position of being alone with Arwen on the road for what would likely be weeks, if not a month, on the trip back to Imladris. Orcs had been growing more and more bold, pressing in on the borders more and more often in recent years and Galadriel couldn’t send people with the pair until the orcs could be driven back. As of yet there had been no true assault but the small raiding parties were frequent enough that Haldir could not spare a team. Not that Ariel was particularly worried, she’d yet to find a foe in Middle Earth she wasn’t far more than a match for.
Still, the roads were dangerous as of late, forcing the pair to plot a route that would be slightly safer, though take a touch more time. It was a shorter distance, as the crow flew, than the normal route through the Gap of Rohan but the terrain would force several nights spent in the mountains. They would not use the Pass of Caradhras, the old mountain was far too treacherous so they would take the longer, but less dangerous and more importantly slightly further from Moria, pass nearby.
Most didn’t use the pass, it was a week longer than Caradhras though two weeks shorter than the Gap of Rohan, and normally not quite as safe. It was however, decided to be slightly safer to shy away from Isengard, Galadriel warned that Saruman had been acting... strange as of late so it was better to just avoid him entirely rather than risk the only daughter of Elrond Peredhel.
The pair was set to leave in the morning, and Ariel was just finishing packing survival gear for the trip, her weapons already ready and waiting by the door as they always were. She was interrupted mid-pack by a soft knock at her door. The slayer paused in her packing to look up, “Come in,” she offered and the door opened to show the very person Ariel would be spending the next month with, alone, in the wilderness.
“Oh, you’re packing. I’ll leave you to it then,” Arwen said softly, moving to leave, feeling suddenly nervous.
“No, It’s ok. I’m probably overpacking anyway. What did you need?” Ariel asked with a smile, nana would probably be amused and note that she always seemed to have time for the peredhel.
“Why are you coming with me? I know you said because Lothlorien can’t afford to let a full guard go but that doesn’t seem accurate,” Arwen asked softly, her eyes scanning Ariel for lies, emotions cohflicting in her heart.
Ariel sighed gently, “It’s more accurate than it sounds. You already know I’m the best fighter in the forest, I also take patrols whenever possible, and while it’s true that we could technically spare a guard to escort you, if I took that guard’s patrols solo, to Imladris they would be forced to take you by the Gap of Rohan, a place that is no longer as safe as it once was, and they most assuredly could not take you by the Pass of Caradhras. That leaves the smaller, less traveled, pass we will be taking. Few know of it, fewer still would take it if the Gap were any safer than it is. It is, however, the safest possible road open to us. A full guard could not fit in the smaller caves we will be using, yet that is the road we must take.”
Arwen nodded, the logic was sound, even if it wasn't the answer she desired. Yet... “I understand. My father may be less understanding of me setting out with only one guard however.”
“You are competent with the blade, I have taught you that much. You excel with the bow, as do all of your kin. You are a capable fighter Arwen and if your father allows your brothers to go out alone, then he will keep his wizened mouth shut when it concerns me being with you,” Ariel snorted derisively. She wasn't about to suffer through Elrond Peredhel being a hypocritical nuisance.
Arwen was stunned temporarily, her emotional turmoil calming slightly in her shock. “No one has spoken to him like that in centuries.”
“Technically I am his sister now. He will take it or I will show him why I am the dagnir. Nana may have attempted to sooth my temper but she did not quell it,” Ariel replied with a wicked smirk.
“There’s a balrog slayer in Imladris,” Arwen attempted to argue. She still didn't quite understand what being the dagnir meant for Ariel..
Ariel nodded confidently, having expected that, “I know. Glorfindel I believe? The difference between me and him, is that I didn’t know Elrond, much less bow to his authority, before I became a slayer. I don’t do well when someone tries to force me to obey and unlike Glorfindel, Slayer for me isn’t just a title. It’s in my bone, my blood, and my very soul. I will protect you, and if that is not good enough for Elrond I will show him why it is more than enough.”
Arwen was taken aback by Ariel’s declaration. The younger, flaxen haired, elf had talked very very little of what the Dagnir part of her name truly meant. There were those in Imladris who had simply believed Ariel Dagnir to be a skilled warrior, others still who thought her to be a fiction created to ward the Orcs from invading Lothlorien’s borders.
The Evenstar’s voice rang out, her soothing tones calming Ariel’s momentary anger, “I’ve seen you fight Ariel, I do not doubt you. I merely say that even should my father not be upset by the scarcity of my protection, there will be those in Imladris who denounce your abilities as false.”
“Any who doubt me will be free to challenge me to single combat in the practice ring. If they are brave enough to back their words up with actions at all that is,” Ariel responded, calm as only a warrior, sure in their own abilities, could be.
Arwen smiled, her heart felt warmed by Ariel’s statements of protection. She was also not blind, she’d seen some of the glances the dagnir had sent her way. It wasn’t utterly unheard of for elves to pair off with members of the same sex, but it was bizarre for her personally. She had never felt desires this way before.
Two days later they left the relative safety of the golden wood and were heading northwest toward the pass through the mountains.