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Section LXX-Entering Lothlórien

I’m sore all over but able to keep up well enough. At the moment, Gimli and I bring up the rear, as we continue our flight to Lothlórien. From time to time, I pause, and fancy I hear the patter of feet, but see almost nothing... Sting emits no blue glow, so the orcs are still a fair distance behind us.

We finally slow to a walk as we enter the border of the Golden Woods, as Legolas calls this forest. All seem familiar with this place but we hobbits, who know nothing of it. So much there is we know nothing of...

Legolas never before traveled here, but his folk share long past memories of it. Even so, he revels as one who finally arrives in a land oft visited in warm and pleasant dreams.

Gimli too knows of it, but has never passed this way and wonders if Elves still dwell here. Legolas assures him the fair folk continue in these Woods, though not so close to the border.

Aragorn at first says nothing, but it is easy to see the softening of his face and how he breathes more easily, as one rejoicing in returning safely home.

Boromir glances about him warily, clearly uncomfortable. He too grew up hearing tales of the Golden Woods, and so trusts our trail not at all. He boldly states his desire to take any other path, but this one.

I cannot help but overhear the conversation between Aragorn and Boromir; in truth, there is no effort to hide the disagreement. Ever is it so, mayhap, between two so alike and yet different; both are leaders of Men, one by choice and training and one by long past heritage, whether he desires it or no.

Aragorn’s response is telling. Clearly there is no other way but the one before us, but Aragorn defends the Woods almost fiercely, as though Boromir’s distrust somehow slights this realm.

I realize anew how much I do not know about either Man, or for that matter, any of the company. Even Merry, Pippin, and Sam surprise me from time to time...

My eyes close for a moment, as if I might shut out the words being spoken; an unexpected dread creeps over me.

Boromir remembers warnings about those who enter the Woods not escaping ‘unscathed.’ Aragorn asserts such a word is poorly chosen, and a better one might be ‘unchanged.’ Though the exchange is tinged with tension, something else quails my heart. Aragorn assures Boromir the only ones who need fear Lothlórien are those who bring evil with them.

My heart stops in my chest; no one, no one brings greater evil than I...

Gimli cautions me to mind my way and speaks of a sorceress of terrible power who dwells here.

I missed much of his admonition, for amidst it I hear my name on the wind. Is it the wind? I look about me, but no one else seems aware of it...

“Your coming to us is as the footsteps of doom.”

Icy blue eyes fill my vision, stark in contrast to the eye wreathed in flame...

“You bring great evil here, Ring-bearer.”

I know. The Ring rests heavily against my breast.

My name, this time it is Sam who utters it. His gentle hand on my shoulder turns my thoughts away from the voice in my mind, for I am certain now, only I heard her.

Each step increases my trepidation; forward or back, the way is fraught with danger...

I catch my breath, eyeing the arrows leveled at me. Where did the Elves appear from? Thin air it seems, for even my keen hearing missed their silent approach. We are trapped unawares but for Legolas, who also holds an arrow nocked and drawn.