As we continue our journey to Caras Galadhon, I gaze about me in all directions, in undisguised wonder. Only vaguely am I aware of my traveling companions. With my eyes free of their blindfold, all other senses cease, for a time. I feast on the beauty unveiled before me, as one starved of both food and drink.
The trees... never before have I beheld such foliage and bark, bathed in divergent colours of green and blue and brown, for which I know not a single name. Legolas called them mellyrn when we entered Lothlórien, but the mallorn-trees before us tower impossibly skyward. I grapple with the sense of the long ago past, mayhap even before this world was, ensconced in the present moment.
A white stone paved road leads into the city where night blankets the sky, and yet is held in abeyance by countless flickering candles. In truth, I cannot help but wonder if the very stars do not themselves settle comfortably among the branches to rest.
Entering by the gates, it is increasingly difficult to take everything in, all at once, as each step reveals the well-beloved home of these Elves, unlike anywhere I have known or imagined. Boromir has spoken of his White City; is it anything at all akin to this dwelling place of the Galadhrim? All I know of the cities of the wide world are the little villages of the Shire, Bree, Rivendell, and Moria...
I shudder as memories flood my mind. My wonder and amazement fade in the shadow of our loss -- my loss. How much sweeter would be my awe if I could but share it with Gandalf...
We are treated now as friends and guests, and yet -- and yet, I cannot forget: I bring great evil here.
Up the encircling steps, we climb, about the resplendent mallorn, one foot in front of the other; to where? I know not. There is harmony and grace in every branch and leaf. The stairs we now traverse, rather than being a forced marring of the bark, bend and blend, as though the tree itself willed the adornment. And yet -- and yet, discord rests against my breast.
Ever upward we ascend. An altogether unfamiliar sensation and view for a hobbit, whose home is a hole in the ground. Though my heart weighs heavy in my chest I am unable to resist gazing about me, step by step by step.
Finally there is a pause in the stairs, and below my feet the flet is etched with leaves of gold and silver. It appears our destination is reached for Gimli stops, and I stand beside him with Sam on my other side. I sense Legolas behind me. Aragorn takes his stance to the fore of our Company.
I am weary, so terribly, terribly weary. Calm pervades everything about me, and yet -- and yet, will I ever truly know peace? As though It may bear no sway here, the whispering seems silenced, for the moment; for how long?
The quiet of a gentle summer long past brushes my mind, and I raise my eyes gradually. Before me, a shallow flight of steps lead to a higher flet, aglow with light. And descending in resplendent beauty, a pair of Elves, tall and fair and noble, dressed in shining white; their countenances timeless and alight.
The Lord Celeborn and the Lady Galadriel.