A Little Warrior
Hello again, thanks for all the reviews! This chapter was getting too long, so I cut it in half, and will post the second half in a day or two. Buffy stuff belongs to Joss and Tolkien stuff belongs to the remaining Tolkiens and there is a character in this chapter that belongs to Peter Jackson that I thought would fit nicely with this story.
Third Age Year 75
“Are you sure you want to come with me?”
“You know that even if I didn’t want to travel with you the king would order me to follow you from a distance, but I want to go.”
“Are you ready to return to Gondor, to see the place where your friends and family died?”
“Not all of Gondor was besieged and war torn. Much was left and probably much was built after the war. I am ready to travel south and face the past and see the future of mankind, for surely mankind will follow Gondor’s lead.”
“This will have to be an official visit then. If I was alone I might try to sneak in and blend, but with you I will never blend in.”
“Do you honestly think you could blend in with or without me?”
“Hey! Wasn’t I the one that taught you to be stealthy? I know you guys have your silent sneaky elf thing, but I am the master of fashion and disguise. I could blend, puree and maybe mince.”
“Mince is right, but Gondor is not the villages of our border. Gondor is vast and has cities like you’ve never seen before.”
“Yeah well I lived in L.A. London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, New York, Mexico City for a minute, and even Rio. I’ve seen a city.”
“Not like Osgiliath and Minas Anor.”
“How big can it be?”
“Not just big, but especially beautiful. I won’t spoil it for you and give everything away, but it is one of the most beautiful places man has created in Middle Earth. Have you spoken to the king yet?”
“No, you know how he is.”
“I know how he is, that is why you shouldn’t wait too long to talk to him, and Ernil.”
“I know, but I’m not leaving until the end of winter, so it will be a few months. Come on, Angon says there is a trade issue with the people of Esgaroth and you know what will happen if Thranduil or Galion try to handle it and after that we have border duty.”
“Stop.” Buffy put her hand up and the other elves assigned to the border guard halted their horses and all fell silent. Buffy cocked her head and listened. She stood on her horse and leapt into the branch above and the elves heard a small squeak and took out their bows aiming at the trees above.
“It’s alright it’s only a sneaky little girl trying to follow us.” She dropped to the ground holding the tiny elf girl in her arms. “To whom do you belong? What is your name?”
In years, the child was no more than five or six. Her hair was red braided, her dress was that of a little warrior boy, and she was only slightly taller than a human child her age. She carried a bow and quiver much too large for her, almost as big as her body and the fear, clear in her expression, shifted to stubborn determination when she was questioned.
“I belong to no one except the forest. My name is Tauriel and I will guard the border and fight the orcs!” She took out a very small knife and stuck it into the air to accentuate her point.
Some of the elves chuckled and Dulinnor spoke up, “Do not lie, Tauriel. I know your parents, and they will be very worried about you if you do not come home tonight.”
“Dulinnor, do you think they will miss her if we send word that she will accompany us?”
“You cannot be serious!”
“I am asking a simple question Malton, and not to you.”
“To be honest lady, they might welcome the break if they knew she was safe with you. She is,” he paused, “she is vigorous and requires a lot of attention.”
“Tauriel, can you take orders? No matter how small and insignificant, or large and very important I need to know you will follow my every command. Can you do that? Even if I tell you to run and hide?”
Tauriel frowned. “I should not like to hide.”
“No, but as part of our company, you must be able to take orders. Malton, sit on that log, now.” The elf responded instantly. “Dulinnor point your sword at Malton’s neck just under his chin and apply minimal pressure.” Dulinnor did as he was told. “Dulinnor, would you kill Malton if I told you to?”
“Yes.” It was a simple and without hesitation.
“Because I trust you.”
“Can you trust me Tauriel, to lead you?”
“I don’t want Dulinnor to kill Malton.”
“She is only a child!”
“Yes, and a child that thinks herself ready for battle and battle means death.” She looked back to the child. “Can you trust that I would not give the order unless it was necessary and important?”
“Trust must be earned.” Tauriel crossed her arms and glared at Buffy.
“Yes and for me as well. I cannot lead you or our company if I cannot trust you, if they cannot trust you. The trust between brother and sister soldiers is as important as the trust between me and any soldier, so I ask again can I trust you to do exactly as I say no matter how absurd you think the command, no matter how much you want to do something else? When you decide to join my company of guards and warriors you must decide to trust that I will give you reason to trust me, but it will have to be on faith at the start. I will not allow anyone to follow me unless they obey absolutely and not only because they agree to it. I must know it, and under normal circumstances I would have months to establish this relationship, but you have forced yourself on us, and I must decide here and now, as you must, if you can follow my lead.”
“But you will not kill Malton?”
“Not today.” Buffy smiled at the child.
“Will I always have to do what you say?”
“When I can trust you to stand on your own, I will not always give you commands, but no matter how old you are, if you are part of the guard and I give you a command or any superior, you must obey. For now, I do not know how you will react should we encounter the enemy. While you train, you will be expected to follow my orders to the letter. Now, it is important that we continue on our journey. Make your decision now.”
“I will follow you Gilrin.”
“Very well. Rainion, do you know Tauriel’s parents?”
“Good, take your food and blanket and give it to the child to carry. She will return it to you washed when we return and she will repay you for the food in whatever way you think best. You are relived of your watch duty this week. Please explain the situation to her parents and Angon and enjoy your time off.”
“I will lady, thank you.” He began to take apart his pack and hand over his food, water skin, and bedroll to Tauriel.
“But I cannot carry it all.”
“You must. If you want to be a soldier you must carry your food. Nobody else will do it for you, but this time we have horses, and none of us are carrying our own food. We can attach your things to our own, but you will be responsible for it so tie it on tight. Have you ever heard that an army is only as strong as its weakest soldier? I don’t agree with it, but it makes an important point. How strong can we be if you cannot carry your own bedroll and food?”
“Buffy, don’t you think you are being a bit harsh on the girl? She hasn’t thought of this, she is only a child.”
“That is why I am being so harsh on her. She hasn’t thought of this and more than anything she needs to learn to think. The hardest most difficult things to slay are always the smartest and most cunning. Brute strength is important, but it will not win wars. Yes I want you strong, but more than anything Tauriel, I want you to think about what you do before you do it. Actions have consequences and if you are going to follow us uninvited to the border you will suffer the slings and arrows and take arms against a sea of troubles like the rest of us and sometimes that simply means carrying your own food. Next time you will think about it before you run away from your parents to me. War is not romantic. It is bloody and hard and-“
“And in our case, quiet.”
“And border duty can be quiet and boring, but that’s a different kind of hard. And Pellam and his guard await our relief, let’s motor.”
In the week they spent at the border, no orcs attempted to invade Greenwood from the west, but that did not mean it was peaceful. Vigorous was the word Dulinnor used to describe her, but Buffy might have said something less favorable. She liked Tauriel, but the girl did not stop moving and making noises.
“Tauriel, you must stop, now. If you are going to learn to be a soldier you must also learn to be quiet and stealthy. Sometimes when we are outnumbered it is best to hide and make our move when we have a chance of winning. I know you are bursting with energy, but you are gona have to learn to channel it. Sit, and I will teach you to meditate.”
“Meditate? But won’t that make me calm? Shouldn’t I be ready to fight?”
“Yes, but you will be a better fighter if you are not so tightly wound, and if you won’t calm down, I’m gona make you run the border again.”
Tauriel was as reasonable as most younger children as long as she had enough exercise. They ended up running along the border several times. Each elf was responsible for a section and Buffy’s section doubled without Rainion, would now have an obvious path from Dulinnor to Malton. The girl was not without merit and just as she promised, she followed Buffy’s orders and took easily to the training. She was, like most elves of the Woodland Realm good with the bow and climbed trees very quickly but beyond that she was curious, driven and like Buffy, she had an instinct when fighting. They only spent a week together, but Buffy tried to make the most of it. She promised the girl that when they returned she would, with her parents permission and as long as she didn’t tag along again without asking again, allow her to train with some of the younger recruits and that seemed to satisfy her.
“Are you happy you came with us?”
Tauriel stopped to think, something Buffy was glad about. “Yes, but it wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
“You thought the border was crawling with orcs and on very rare occasions we are invaded, but most orcs know better.”
“Where did you come from, really?”
“It’s a hard question to answer, because I’m not entirely sure where I am. I think that I am from a place that was once like this one. My planet was called Earth, and yours is called Middle Earth, and it might be the same place in a different time, but I do not know.”
“And there were vampires where you lived?”
“Yes, many more than you are used to. When I was first called, there were so many vampires around the world that a slayer only lived a few months. Eventually a vampire or demon always got her.”
“But not you! You can beat anything!”
“No, they get everyone eventually, even me, but I had help, and sometimes when I was in a lot of trouble, my friends would save me. That is why you must learn to trust your fellow soldiers, and you’re right, trust must be earned, but if I didn’t trust my friends I’d be dead, and would never have met you.”
“What were they like? Where are they now?”
“They are dead now. Like most humans they cannot live forever.”
“Who were they?”
“Be patient kid, I’m old and my memories are too. They are like very old books that begin to fade. Sometimes I can make out all the words and sometimes not.”
“You are losing your memories?”
“It’s not as bad as all that, but sometimes it’s hard to access them. I miss them, but I’ll tell you about the Scoobys if you’ll add more wood to the fire.” The girl complied and ran back to snuggle with Buffy.
“When I was fifteen or sixteen my mother moved my sister and I to a new town and there I met my two best friends Willow and Xander.”
“You had a sister? What was she like? Why did your mom move your family to a new town? And what funny names they had!”
“I suppose they seem funny to you but Willow is tathar in your language, so it was a very pretty name, though I’m not sure what Xander means. My sister’s name was Dawn or minuial and my mother was called Joyce which is something like gell or meren. “
“What were they like?”
“My mother was like all the best moms combined. She loved me and took very good care of us, and fought for us and protected us when we needed it. She liked art so much she studied it at a famous university and bought and sold beautiful things for a job. She died when I was very young.” Buffy stopped, thinking about what else there was to say.
“Was she strong like you?”
“No my powers are not passed down through families. I was chosen.”
“Who chose you?”
“The power itself chose me I suppose or the Valar is more likely, but you know, I don’t actually know.”
“What about your sister, what was Minuial like?”
“She was, uh, she was, well she was sort of like you. Stubborn and headstrong, she always got her way. She was a quick learner and was able to read and speak several dead, alive and even demon languages. She ate the worst foods and always wanted to tag along with me while simultaneously criticizing everything I did. Typical little sister. She had long brown hair and was very tall, taller than my mother or father. She married Xander when she was very young and had seven children.”
“Yes, Ian, Cate, Elijah, Martin, Miranda, Sean and little Hugo.”
“Do you have any children?”
“Sarah, Alex and Joyce.”
Tauriel was aware enough to know that she shouldn’t press, but waited for Buffy to say more.
“They were so different from each other and Bob and I, but then we could see ourselves in their eyes and shape and thought.”
“My mom says I look just like her mother, but I have my ada’s hair and smile.”
“Yes and that is how they were.”
“So they weren’t strong like you? Do they live like elves?”
“No, they were not physically strong, but they had other strengths. As I said, my powers couldn’t be passed on, and they did not live longer than they could.”
“Where did they go? I asked nana where humans go when their bodies die, but she did not know.”
“To a place I could not follow, but I know them to be safe and warm and finished, as it should be.”
They were quiet for a while and Tauriel finally asked the question that she wanted to ask from the beginning. “Are you really going away?”
“Why? Have you got in a quarrel with the King?”
“Of course not, he is my noss, my ada and if I was quarreling with him I would stay and work it out. Besides, if I was worried about everything that got his knickers in a twist, I’d never leave the great hall. No, I’m going because there are other people that need help, and many that don’t but I want to meet them. My brain is still human you know, and a lifetime in one place necessitates a change of circumstance and location. There are also all the stories I’ve heard about Gondor and Lindon and Lorien, and even Lord Elronds home in the valley. I want to see these places and meet the people I’ve heard so much about. Do you know that there is another slayer in middle earth, well two but we can get back to the second later. There is a balrog slayer living in Imladris! I want to meet Glorfindel and these men that live very long lives like the king of Gondor. Some might be older than I, and probably have some really good stories and wisdom or advice to help me survive the coming ages. Plus, I just want to be nearer the sea for a little while. I lived by one ocean or another most of my life, and though I lovethe forest I miss the sea.”
“Will you miss us?”
“Of course, you are my family.”
“What will you miss the most?”
Buffy thought about it for a minute and eventually replied, “I think I will miss my friends and the trees, my home and all the elves I know, and I’ve grown quite fond of all your singing. It puts me to sleep at night and I’m afraid I won’t be able to sleep without it. I think I should miss my freedom in a way too.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well Duli says when I enter the realm of men and even other elf cities they will find me very odd if I wear my normal clothes and weapons. I’ve always liked dressing up, but to be forced into a long gown all day will be murder.”
“I know, nana says I must always wear a dress, but I won’t and she is always cross.”
“Sometimes you should make her happy, she is your nana after all.”
“Will you tell me a story? Nana always tells me a story before bed and sometimes she sings.”
“If I sang, you’d run away and hide but I’ll tell you a story. What do you want to hear?”
“Tell me of a battle from your home. Ada has told me of all the great battles of Middle Earth, but tell me of yours.”
“You are a strange child. How about I tell you about the last big battle I fought in?”
“In those days I was the leader of many slayers like me. They had strength and power like mine and there was a giant spaghetti monster from the stars coming to eat the world…”
Three months later
“You’re leaving us?”
“I want to see Gondor and the rest of Middle Earth, but I will come back. Greenwood is my home, you are my family.”
“And you are our protector, who will look after our people if we are attacked?”
“Angon is a capable leader. He was capable before I arrived, and now he has a real army that can back him up.”
“You presume to know the future, or what he is or isn’t capable?”
“This trip is more than a pleasure cruise. Haven’t you spoken of increasing trade with the other regions of the world? Wouldn’t it be better if we had more contact with Gondor so we might have warning if the wild men of the east decide to attack or Sauron returns? Don’t you have friends in Edhellond? I want to see the elven city by the sea in the south and the Grey Havens in the West. I want to see all the elf cities and settlements, and beyond curiosity, I have a duty to the other people of Middle Earth.”
“What of your duty to us? You are the princess of Greenwood, and you would abandon us?”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at the king. “I am first and foremost Buffy Summers and second the Slayer and Gilrin for your world, and my duty is to myself and the people, not to this forest or you specifically. I have given you my allegiance and heart and many years, if the connection is broken it will be on your end not mine.” Buffy knew he would put up a fight and she was prepared for low blows, but she was not about to listen to him make claim that she would abandon them in their time of need.
“Ada, there hasn’t been an orc in our part of the forest in several years. Sauron appears to be gone for now, and your army is better than ever. Gondor and the west are at peace. I won’t be gone forever but there are other people out there that need me, and I want to explore.”
Ernil finally spoke up. “Melethron, do not forget that you too left your father’s home to travel and live abroad and it gained you a wife. She must travel and find her place in this world. She is human, and unaccustomed to living in one place for longer than a human lifetime. She will come home, but we will not make her feel unwelcome.” Buffy smiled at Ernil and Thranduil folded his arms and glared at Buffy.
“You will not go alone.”
“Dulinnor wants to tag along.”
“Dulinnor is not sufficient protection for a princess of the Woodland Realm!”
“I do not take him for protection. After everything I’ve shown you, you still believe I need protection? And could you stop saying protection it makes me think of condoms.”
Thranduil ignored that last part, as he did every time she spoke of things he didn’t understand, but he finally got to what was really bothering him. “Yes, you will need guards. The men of the world will want to steal you and keep you for themselves.”
“And if they do, I will calmly explain that I am not for sale or for stealing.”
“These are men, they will imprison you and force you to be their council and torture you for our secrets.”
“Nobody forces me to do anything, and I’d rather you not talk about my people that way. You may not like it but I am one of them, and I will always be one of them.”
“Do not think because you have spent some time in the villages bordering our forest that you know the men of this world. They are evil and greedy and will want you for themselves.”
“And I will be there for them if they need me.”
“So it’s true, you are abandoning us!”
“No, but I will always be there to help them as long as they are not trying to attack some innocent country. You’ve read the prophecy, and it says nothing about protecting Greenwood and Thranduil only. I’ve had enough of this arguing. I’ll be going with or without your permission, but I’d prefer to leave on good terms.”
Thranduil was furious, but not out of his mind. He was aware enough to know that she was important and he wanted her to return and come back if they needed her. A part of him actually wanted her to let the world know she was a daughter of Greenwood. He decided early on not to advertise the adoption to the other realms in the hopes that she would remain with him, but a part of him wanted to show her off. To let the world know that the Gilrin was sent to him and belonged to him, and he wanted to believe that she could bring something to Greenwood, more trade or money, and at least notoriety. None would dare invade if they knew she was their protector.
“Go, but go with our name and protection. You will represent us in your travels and do not use that silly name your mother gave you. They will think you related to a dwarf!”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “I am definitely not hairy enough to be a dwarf! Don’t worry Ada, everyone will know where I come from and to whom I belong.”
Ernil smiled at them. It was hilarious the way she used Ada, when she wanted something, or to butter him up, and Thranduil when she was yelling at him. They were both so alike. She could almost be his daughter if she didn’t know better. “When will you go?”
“I don’t want to pack for winter travel, though I will probably need to get warmer things if I stay gone for a long time. It will be warm enough in a few weeks to leave. Duli wants to leave now, but I’m not into the cold weather camping. You guys don’t feel it like I do.”
The argument was shorter than Buffy expected, and now that she officially had Thranduils blessing she could openly discuss and pack for the trip.
Buffy had few possessions, but she still had several things that she could not take with her, that must be kept. She left her manuscripts and the few pictures she had of her family and friend with Ernil and her house was packed up as well. They would keep it for her, and maintain the structure, but it would be better if all her possessions were brought into the vaults below the halls for safekeeping.
She was given several gifts from her parents and friends to make her journey easier and more comfortable. First, she was officially given her horse Uanel (monster.) The horse was already hers, and since Uanel was one of only a few that wasn’t nervous with Buffy as it’s rider, they were happy to give her up. She was also given three quires to write in and a jar of ink in case some other lord wanted to send a message to Thranduil that could wait for her return. Ernil made sure she had a new set of clothes and Angon presented her with better straps for her scythe and bow.
Angon would miss her. Technically Buffy was now his superior, but in name only. Most of the time she let him lead and only stepped in when it was required or in ceremony of which Thranduil was fond. As princess she held some sway over the guard but after Thranduil made her a new title, General of the guard, which was supposed to be superior to Angons captain title, Buffy could take over if it was necessary, but this wasn’t the reason he liked her. Nor was it that she stood up to Thranduil when he was being ridiculous. He liked her because she understood what it meant to lead. She was someone that knew the weight of her decisions and the pressures put on from Thranduil and the warriors and guard. She spent one hundred years as leader of her people before she came to Eryn Galen which was much longer than he had the charge of the guard before her arrival.
She was calculating and intelligent but not cold and she led with heart and mind. She knew when to be hard on someone and when to give them a break, and if someone disagreed with her decision, as long as they were respectful she let them speak and actually listened to the advice if it was good. He could respect and follow her, however shocking his father might have found such a revelation and as far as humans go she was impressive and in some ways more like an elf.
“Gilrin, I wish you happiness and I hope you find what you seek.”
“Thanks, any advice?”
“Only this: the king is not wrong. Men covet what is beautiful and powerful. You would be the jewel of any realm. If you were my daughter I would caution you not to reveal your power until it is necessary. Do not call yourself Gilrin in Gondor, but go by the name your ada gave you after the adoption. A daughter of elves and humans can choose to live forever and men will respect your decision and envy you but not question it. Use it to hide your true identity and retain your autonomy. I know you can fight, and escape, but even you might be overwhelmed and imprisoned and it would be a terrible thing for us to have to leave Greenwood and slaughter men to free you. For surely the king would make war against anyone that dared keep you prisoner. I know I would do the same for my daughter or any of our people.”
Buffy sighed but nodded. “I know, but my friend told me I wouldn’t have to hide who I am in Middle Earth, and now I have to pretend to be some princess and they will know that’s a crock. Thank the Valar Duli wants to come with or they’d think I was crazy.”
“You underestimate yourself. The world of men has never seen one like you before. They will know you are royalty even without all that finery the queen has packed for you. Gondor is more advanced than the villages here, but it is still a society in its infancy, at least to elves. You can read and write in many languages and can fight better than all the men in Osgiliath, and when you actually put on a dress you look lovely. Do not forget that Thranduil adopted you, a human, as his heir. If you were anything less than royalty he would have expelled you the moment I brought you into these halls with or without the queen’s permission.”
“Thanks Angon, and good luck being the big cheese around here. I think Tauriel is gunning for your job, so watch your back.”
“Perhaps I’ll let her have it, then I might not have to answer to you and your outrageous demands.”
“Hey, the Hokey Pokey is a long standing tradition where I’m from, and an important rite of passage. Feel lucky I didn’t make you do it in front of the whole guard like I had to when I was in charge of my girls.”
“It’s not only the dance, but your fowl singing that turns me off.”
“Yeah yeah, make fun of the girl who can’t sing a nursery rhyme without making the trees scream.”
Thanks for reading. And in the next chapter Buffy goes to Gondor.