Our journey continues in the dark. How different from Moria this is, though we had a torch and Gandalf -- and Gandalf’s staff to light our path, this feels ever so much safer. Our guides lead us true, without a single misstep.
I know my own trust deepens, and I am able to open my mind to the world around me revealed by smell and sound and touch.
It is winter in the Shire. There is probably at least a skiff of snow on the ground, the air heavy with the smell of smoke from the fires warming the smials and houses. Here, it feels more like fall. The air is crisp and fresh, with that faint scent of leaves turning from green to orange and red and gold...
Ever more amazed am I by the noises assailing my ears. Never did I realize how the world is replete with a myriad of sounds: the droning buzz of a nearby bee, the varied singing of the birds, the whisper of the wind through the tree branches overhead and the rustle of the leaves on the bushes, as well as the rush of the nearby river tumbling over its rocks.
Even more remarkable is the difference between the quiet patter of hobbit feet, gentle as spring rain and the gliding step of the Elves, like downy snow on a December night, and all vastly different from the booted feet of Gimli, Boromir, and Aragorn. Gimli complained earlier of possibly stubbing a toe on our hike in the enforced dark, yet his step is sure as though completely unfettered. How odd; I expected Aragorn and Boromir’s steps would be difficult to tell apart, both being Men, but theirs are more distinct yet. Aragorn clearly spent time with the Elves for though his feet are booted his step is light, as one accustomed to silent concealment. Boromir’s step is firm and certain, more akin to Gimli’s. Not a single halting gait is noted.
We stop in an open glade, for I feel the sun on my face. I do not know why, though I hear several new Elvish voices I do not recognize, for each is distinctive. Only now do I realize how it is more than just words that separate one voice from another. There are of course the obvious differences, but there are also the subtle ones. All Elves seem to possess a musical voice, and still they differ greatly in tone and cadence, which varies only slightly with their mood.
I do not know what news is brought, but I hear Haldir remove Gimli’s blindfold first. I do not begrudge him this courtesy. I only hope it eases the sting of suspicion. Then the rest of us are freed to gaze about us. Haldir apologizes eloquently and explains Elrond did indeed send word of our coming, but they have only just received the message.
Thoughts swirl through my mind. In the house of Lord Elrond, I sensed a reflection of the past; here, it is more than reflection but the past itself come to life. The others relax by lying down in the grass; I cannot. I am drawn to search the beauty about me in open wonder. Legolas and Aragorn clearly feel they are home. Will I ever again enjoy the feeling of being home?
After a brief rest, we continue forward until finally we stand together and gaze out over the land before us. As Haldir speaks his face softens noticeably. The adoration and peace shining in his eyes are reflected in his voice as well.
“Caras Galadhon, the heart of Elvendom on earth; home of the Lord Celeborn and of Galadriel, the Lady of Light.”
Is the weight of the Ring lighter, or is it only in my mind?