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the clearing
 

 

A fateful meeting at the Frost Fair

Haldir pulled the curtain aside. The small booth was lined with furs and heated with a glowing brazier.

“Come inside, and take a seat,” said the woman.

The sign said ‘Fortunes Told’. Haldir had heard of human wise women and their extraordinary powers, and had been expecting an old crone, bowed down by a lifetime’s experience. But the woman inviting him to sit beside her was no older than Eowyn—a vibrant beauty with hair the colour of carantaur leaves.

Something told him that to enter would be to court disaster.

He stepped inside and sat down.

“You are troubled,” said the woman, gazing at him intently. “Let us see why.” She held out her hand.

Haldir gave her a silver piece.

She laughed—and it was a lovely sound. “We’ll worry about payment later, Master Elf! First, I must see your palm.” She returned the coin.

“Oh…” Haldir fumbled it away, then laid his left hand, palm upwards, upon hers.

“By the gods,” she said, “what a lifeline!” She leaned closer. “But you have cheated death, quite recently, I see. And… More recently still, you have suffered some kind of… Transformation…” She looked up at him. “I have never seen anything quite like that before.”

Her eyes were of the palest green, edged with a grey that was almost as dark her pupils, and her gaze made Haldir think of a wild creature. “All that is in the past,” he said.

“Yes. But we must understand the past to predict the future.” She looked at his hand again. “Your love line… Branches… Two identical paths… One ends suddenly—you have loved and lost the same woman twice—lost her to the same man.”

“Elf,” said Haldir. “But, the second time—well, it does not matter. Is there any hope?”

“Of winning her?”

Haldir shrugged.

“There is always hope.” She stroked his palm with her slender finger. Haldir shivered. “Why do you value yourself so little?” she asked.

“What do you mean?”

This one betrays you. And you permit it.”

“He is a king,” said Haldir. “And…” He watched a tendril of flaming hair slide over her creamy shoulder. “That does not matter, either.”

Gently, the woman folded his fingers over his palm, ‘closing’ his hand. “I can see no more,” she said.

“But you have told me nothing.”

“Of the future, no. Some things I cannot see.”

“See? Or tell?”

“It is the same thing.”

Without realising it, Haldir had raised his hand, and he lifted her wayward tress, and smoothed it back over her bare shoulder, and the woman, closing her eyes, turned her head and pressed her cheek to his fingers.

“This,” said Haldir, softly, “is what you foresaw…”

“Part of it.”

“Will you not tell me all?”

She shook her head. “I cannot. You must allow time to run its natural course.”

“What is your name?”

“Ayleth,” she said.

“Until time brings us together again, Ayleth,” said Haldir, raising her hand to his lips.

...

Transformation Haldir was briefly turned into a baboon in The Strange Sea Road.
The second time Haldir lost shadow Eowyn in Shadowland.
This one Cyllien.
He is a king Thranduil.

 

 
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