Many great leaders followed from the first, and Ilerra’s father was no different. He was Halerr, governor of his people just as his great-grandfather. In his youth he had dreamed of glory in the heart of Gondor, to take up the offer his great-grandfather once denied. Yet when his brother was crippled in battle, and no other could lead, he took his great-grandfather’s calling upon him. The dreams of glory died. Soon he dreamed only of prosperity and peace. Many years passed and Halerr was content, though grey speckled his beard and aches plagued his joints.
One day a strange woman stumbled into the village. She was badly injured, and her eyes wild. She was beautiful like the beasts of the forest — her eyes the color of new leaf, her hair thick, wild and dark on her shoulders like the brambles in the woods, and her skin pale like the moon. The village tended to the injured woman kindly, in spite of the threat she might pose. When her fever broke, Halerr visited her to see what had caused such unease among his people… and was instantly struck by her beauty, her strength, and her fire. She introduced herself as Sable.
Their romance progressed as slowly and mysteriously as the turning of the seasons. Sable stayed in the village until she was well, then made plans to set off again. Halerr asked her to stay longer, until the harvest was over at least as the plentiful crop required extra hands, and she agreed. The harvest ended. He asked her to stay until the winter solstice celebration in honor of her work, and she agreed. Then spring came, summer, and fall again. The seasons once more repeated, and the woman remained, though her excuses for doing so had become thinly veiled. She made strict plans to leave the day she had arrived in the village two years ago. But Halerr offered her a single lily and his heart. Her excuses ran short; she agreed to stay.
Shortly thereafter they were wed, and for a time deeply happy. Within the year they had a child, a baby daughter, and it seemed his father’s father’s father’s legacy would continue… yet with the birth of their daughter, Sable grew more distant. She looked to the forest where she hadn’t before, she grew colder, somber, and older of spirit. On Ilerra’s third birthday she left, leaving the girl with only the memory of her leaving and the stories her father would tell of her after.
Ilerra grew to be a rebellious child and desired nothing more than to leave the valley. Halerr taught her every corner of their valley so she might grow to love it, but the fire in her heart could not be tamed. Just as he had, she dreamed of battle and adventure, and no words could deter her from it. On frequent occasion she fled his watch, and Halerr was forced to send his best men to fetch the girl before she fell into harm. Age somewhat tempered her heart, though it was still a wild thing that yearned yet for more.
Shortly after she turned 16, darkness found the innocent valley. Rumor told of the orcs, wolves, and otherwise that now lurked their forest — though many struggled to believe it. Ilerra never let the rumor rule her and continued to walk along the forest as she had as a girl. Some nights she stole her father’s battle axe from the mantle for some sense of security as she crawled in all those dangerous, unseen corners of the woods. One night such danger did befall her — a hideous orc appeared, advancing menacingly. Yet rather than fleeing, she took the axe in hand, prepared for battle.
She was untrained and undisciplined. By the first strike of the axe, too heavy in her tiny trembling palms, it was clear this would not be a fight she would win. Yet, she did not flee; stubbornness forced her to take down this evil that would harm her beloved home, even at the cost of her own life. It was by happenstance a stranger came upon her at this desperate hour, and slayed the orc before it managed to do the same to her. He brought the injured girl to the village. At first Halerr thought the stranger had caused her this harm, yet once his story was confirmed, he was instantly welcomed to the village as a hero.
This stranger stayed many nights, soon days, then weeks, and subsequently months. The girl continued to run off into trouble, and the stranger could not in good consciousness allow her to be hurt. When it became clear he would not always be there to defend her, he trained her to wield her father’s axe she so frequently stole - in spite of her father's wishes she never learn the arts of battle. In those few years she grew talented with the weapon, though never once told her father where she spent her many days.
As Ilerra grew stronger with age, Halerr bowed before it. Halerr had his daughter late in life and knew their time together would be short. The time had come to set his affairs into order. One night over dinner, he removed the battle axe from its position on the mantle and pushed the handle into her palms. ‘Take it,’ he said, ‘If you insist on wielding it, then do so with a blade freely given. It will be more dependable than a stolen weapon’. He named another successor in the event of his death, liberating his daughter from any obligation of leading their people.
As the valley became overran with dark forces, Gondor requested all able-bodied forces to defend the capital. Those that left knew that the valley would be overrun once they left; and so the entire village moved alongside the fighters. That was the last Ilerra ever saw her birthplace, as well as her father. The man died shortly before the town’s departure, his heart too weary to leave his beloved valley behind. She buried him amongst the flowers so she would always know where to find him. She and her protector fought for Gondor, and their bravery made a mark in the hearts of the freed peoples.