Disclaimer: Anything that doesn't look like mine most likely isn't! Three cheers for JRRT and his wonderful imagination!
Things to know about this story:
1.) May not be pure Tolkien
2.) In this story elves are generally in some control of their dreams.
3.) While I hold to the idea that Elves can see dream-images or shadows of other elves/people on the Olórë Mallë (Path of Dreams), for purposes of this story they normally don't, and perhaps never do, actually meet others in their dreams. But something is going to happen in this story which is not normal.
Names/Pronunciations/Translation will come at the end of each chapter. () signal footnotes
Chapter 1: The Dream Dreams the Dreamer
Sometimes dreams alter the course of an entire life.
– Judith Duerk
"You know, brother, that if you stare much longer at that stone you will probably bore a hole through it."
Elrohir came up from behind Elladan and crouched down next to him at the edge of the encampment, which was settled in an outcropping of distressed looking trees that was located on the edge of a craggy, barren expanse. The other Rangers were asleep around a slowly dying fire.
"One would almost think you were neglecting your duties, with how hard you are focusing on that poor defenseless stone." He continued.
Elladan sat motionless for several moments, then replied.
"You know very well that I can keep watch much better with my ears than with my eyes when there is no moon to see by."
"Ah yes, but I still thought I should take some pity on the helpless pebble and try to rescue it from its imminent peril. But really, brother, what is wrong? One of the very few ways that I can not only feel your frustration, but see it, is when you do not raise your eyes to the stars. And when your fëa(1) is not in harmony, then something must be truly wrong with the world."
Elladan let out a dry, mirthless laugh. "Is that how I am? So harmonious and complacent that the world must be coming to an end if something has shaken my fëa?"
"No, but usually it is only I who have the privilege of shaking your peace of mind, and I am fairly sure that I have not led you astray recently. In fact, the last time I did so was such a disaster from your point of view that I think I will not be able to influence you for a good long while. Although I still don't see what was so horrible about the whole affair. We've been in trouble with father before. And even braving Lord Erestor's fury was well worth it when you remember the look on his face when he discovered – "
"Enough! I still can't believe you talked me into that. But that has nothing to do with my present frame of mind. Your talking is now doing more to distract me from my watch then was my glaring at the 'poor defenseless stone'. Be gone."
"Well, I will not argue with you. For I swear that I saw the corner of your mouth twitch. And though I will not say that it was the hint of a smile, I will also not say that it wasn't. Therefore my mission has been somewhat of a success."
"Was your mission to make me smile, or was it to infuriate me out of my stupor?"
"Well, that and tell you to get some sleep. I do not need any more, and you worked harder today than I did. Take the extra rest while you can get it."
Elladan truly did smile then. Elrohir might be slightly infuriating, but he could also be very considerate. Elladan needed some rest – he needed to escape reality for a while.
Reality; that had been pressing down on him quite a bit of late. He did feel out of harmony with the world. To most people who knew him, he was a quite tempered, contemplative, well-mannered elf, who only occasionally caused trouble (usually under the influence of his more fun-loving twin). He was the sturdy one. The one you could count on. But he was also the one that had a tendency to disappear into the scenery. He loved his family dearly, and they loved him. But outside of that circle he felt like most of the world would not miss him much if he were not in it. Certainly there were friends and even admirers at home – but not many of them truly knew him. He felt like he wasn't needed. He felt rather alone.
He sighed heavily as he lay down under his blanket. He tried to tell himself that he was being irrational. But before he could accomplish this feat, he slipped into the path of Elven dreams.
When he slipped into his dream he knew something was wrong. He did not feel danger, but he also did not feel in control.
He entered the Olóre Mallë(2) as he usually did. His physical surroundings faded away or perhaps, more precisely, blended into the dreamscape. The fire, which had been slowly dying, had been stoked into a cheery flame. The trees, which looked as though they had seen too many harsh winters, transformed themselves into a lush vale surrounding him. The stars, brighter and nearer, peeked through the rustling leaves and seemed to sing to him. He finally raised his eyes to them. But he did not feel the peace that usually pervaded him in his trance-like sleep. It felt like something was amiss.
He looked back down and suddenly found himself walking on a path away from the fire. He was certainly not in control of this dream. He followed the path up an incline until he came to the top of the ridge that surrounded the small glade. What he saw was quite unexpected. A mighty forest fire was roaring just beyond the ridge. The ravenous tendrils of flame reached out toward him, as if wishing to devour him. He could feel the heat radiating towards him. But before he could flinch, a sudden down pour of driving rain, from clouds that were not there before, obliterated all signs of the fire.
He was at first quite relieved, but not for long. This rain was almost as demanding as the fire; it strove to beat him down. He was about to collapse unto his knees when he heard a cry from somewhere deep in the charred forest. Through the seared branches he thought he caught a glimpse of white. He wanted to give in and fall to the ground, but then came another cry, full of anguish and pain. He knew that he only saw the shadows of other spirits in his dream, that there was not true danger, but he could not ignore the despair that he heard in that voice. He must try to help if he could. Perhaps there was a meaning to this dream. He would contemplate it later.
He summoned all of his will power to struggle down into the forest. He hoped that the branches of the trees would afford him some cover, but in their burnt and crumbling state he did not get his wish. He wandered for several minutes through the darkened tress, until he heard again the cry, just to the left of him. As he cleared one immense trunk he came in sight of a clearing, in the middle of which knelt a lady in white. She was shaking with sobs, and thoroughly soaked. As he stared at her she screamed one more defiant oath at the sky, and tried again to stand. She slowly attempted to make her way to the edge of the clearing opposite him, but the wind always seemed to be set against her. She was being whipped about, and would have momentarily fallen to the ground again had he not, with an unnatural burst of energy, ran straight across the clearing and caught her in his arms.
She collapsed against him, and then raised her head. For one moment he was caught in the gaze of two perfect, leaf-green eyes, and then suddenly the storm ceased, and Elladan awoke.
Oloriel sighed. 'Another hours work ruined', she thought. She had yet again misjudged the time it would take to attend on her patient in another room of the House of Healing, and had therefore ruined her latest batch of ointment. The recipe was quite clear: the concoction must be allowed to sit for one hour – and one hour only – before adding the last ingredient and mixing. She had been gone an hour and a half. 'Oh well, at least that was my only foible of the day.'
Oloriel was trying to be optimistic. Apparently, the Lady of the Golden Wood thought that she had some promise as a healer, and Oloriel was trying to live up to that promise, but something always seemed to happen.
'At least I still have my singing voice.' Oloriel smiled ryely. A few days ago she had tried to drink a beverage while putting together a batch of cleansing wash, and had almost taken a drink out of the wrong container. Something told her that a liquid designed to destroy bacteria in a festering wound would not have been very forgiving on her throat and vocal chords.
After she cleaned up her latest misadventure, she gathered up a pile of dirty clothes that she had promised Írima, one of the helpers, she would wash. Poor Írima, she hated having to pass up her duties, but Oloriel was not about to let a pregnant elf over-tax herself – she had insisted on helping Írima with her duties.
On her way back to her own flet(3), Oloriel was waylaid by her childhood friend, Kallindo. He was in an annoyingly helpful mood.
"Here, Aiwë, let me help you with that." Kallindo bounded down a few steps, and almost knocked Oloriel over. He was always able to surprise her from behind.
Regaining her balance, Oloriel glared at Kallindo and declared, "It is just some laundry, Kallindo. I know that I am only a young maiden, who is a walking disaster in the Houses of Healing, and a rather mediocre sparring-mate with a blade, but I think, that despite my many short-comings, I can find it within myself to accomplish the task of carrying this one load of laundry to my flet without fainting from over-exertion, falling on my face, or causing bodily injury to anyone. Thank you, but no thanks. And why do you insist on calling my Aiwë? I thought I had finally grown out of that pet name."
Kallindo 'tsked' at her. "Well, someone's had a bad day. And yes, I am sure you're capable of carrying laundry. And no, you have not grown out of that pet name, and you never will, because you do sing as sweetly as a bird, and you are small – small enough that you can't keep me from taking this laundry off your hands."
With those remarks, Kallindo rested the bundle from Oloriel's hands, and gave her a rather 'pleased-with-himself' look. Oloriel couldn't help but smile at it.
"I'm sorry for venting on you, Kallindo. Actually my day wasn't too bad, but I have been brooding, and I am tired and I would like to get back to my flet." Her smile turned into a devilish grin, "Small as a bird, am I? Well at least birds can peck!"
With that she poked him in the ribs – his most ticklish spot – regained the bundle of laundry, and in a flash had run off towards her flet.
She had finished doing the laundry some time ago, and was presently standing on her balcony, looking at the stars through the many golden leaves of the forest roof. It was high time that she went to bed, for she needed to get up early the next day and make sure that Írima did not try to do too much. It had become Írima's strategy to beat Oloriel to the punch, and get in as much work as she could before she was caught. She said that she didn't want to be useless.
Oloriel could understand that. She always wanted to be useful to others – to support them and care for them. But she wasn't sure that she had the purest motives. This is what had been disturbing her lately.
Oloriel's mother had departed to the Undying Lands soon after she was born, and her father did not last much longer. Her older brother, Karnélas, the only other family she had in Middle Earth, was killed during duty along the borders of the Golden Wood many years ago. People she cared about and relied upon had the tendency of disappearing. Oloriel did not ever want to be abandoned again. 'I think that's why I want to be so useful, but don't want to be a burden,' she had mused to herself that afternoon. If she was very useful, then people would always want her, but she didn't want to rely on others, because that always made it hurt more when they left. In her heart, she knew that something was wrong about this way of thinking. She knew she tended to close herself off from people. Like Kallindo – she wouldn't even let him help her with a bundle of laundry!
Oloriel sighed, and turned from the night sky. She knew she needed to sleep; but she didn't want to give herself up to it. Lately her dreams had been very disturbed. She had experienced drowning; she had been chased by orcs; she had been lost in voids – all things that should not have been occurring on the Olóre Mallë. She didn't have control over her dreams any more. But she had to sleep – the dreams couldn't really harm her anyway.
She slipped under the covers and prayed to the Valar that she could have a peaceful night. She did not get her wish.
She slipped into a beautiful forest. The sun was shining. 'This is nice,' she thought. However, it was a premature assessment. As soon as she let the words flow into her mind, the sky darkened. Night came, and a fire started sweeping through the forest. 'Why! Why does this always have to happen! Why am I so tortured!'
Oloriel usually just waited things out. She had learned long ago that there was nothing she could do to change her circumstances. She sat still in an open area of the forest. The birds where flying away into the air – trying to escape. The fires came closer. The smoke started to get into her lungs. It was clawing at her. She found it harder and harder to breathe. She hoped that she wouldn't die – even in dreams, dying is uncomfortable. The heat started to lick at her dress. The same white dress she always found herself in. She could feel the thickness of the air around her, she could feel the heat press in against her body – closing in, crushing her. For the very first time, she called out. Not to anyone in particular, but to anyone who could hear. "Please! Somebody please help me!"
Moments later, things started to go black.
Then came the rain. It pelted down upon her. It beat her to the ground. She felt like it was bruising her skin.
At that moment something snapped in her. She screamed at the sky. Why should it torment her like this? Was she not of the first born? Did not Manwë and Ulmo(4) care for her? Several times she tried to stand up, but the wind and the rain continued to beat her down. Finally, with one more primeval scream she forced herself off the ground. She staggered toward the edge of the clearing. The wind beat her back – it was like being struck with a fist in the stomach. She started to fall again. And then… someone caught her. She felt strong arms close tightly about her. She collapsed into their embrace. And then, raising her eyes she beheld the face of her helper – a dark-haired elf, with equally dark eyes, full of compassion and concern.
And then she awoke.
2. Path of Dreams
3. A flet is a dwelling or platform in the treetops
4. Two of the Valar; I have heard the first referred to as "lord of Clouds" and the second is lord of the waters… correct me someone if I'm wrong!
Names to Know:
Oloriel: (o-LOR-ee-el) "dream daughter"
Aiwë: "small bird"
Kallindo: (kall-IND-o) "noble heart
Írima: (EER-im-ah) "lovely, desirable"
Karnélas: (kar-NAY-lahs) "red leaf"
If you caught my major blunder, just try to ignore the fact that I've named a bunch of Sindarin Elves with Quenya names. I spent some time finding the right names, so when I realized what I'd done I didn't feel like starting over again.
My Thanks go out to Blade-singer (Cathol-lin) at tolkienonline.com (check out her story, "Legolas and the Olórë Mallë) and the "Wandering Minds" of fanfiction.net for some sparks of inspiration concerning Elven dreams.
EVERYONE REVIEW!!! This is my first fanfic, and my second attempt at any kind of fiction… am I good? Should I stop now before I offend any more sensibilities? Tell me tell me – I gotta know!