Disclaimer: I own nothing that is recognizable to the Lord of the Rings franchise. The language used in this story is Sindarin, and is owned by J.R.R. Tolkien. This goes for all other chapters included in this story.
NOTE : This story has been reorganized and updated as of December 15, 2004.
She sat alone, in the bitter watches of the night. When all others shrank from the sick bed, cringing with fear and doubt, she alone gave courage and strength to the pale girl beneath the sheets. Through the fires of anger and rage they had passed together; as one they had stood against the pain their father beat into them. For years she had been strong, to keep her love alive, here, in the world of the living. For so long had they been in the shadow of a man without scruples, who would destroy them without punishment, as the police were in his back-pocket. In the end, their father's rage won out over his cunning, causing him to strike them brutally in a public place, where he was discovered, and they were taken away.
It was already too late, she mused, her heart breaking as she looked at the small form of her younger sister; her breathing was slight, and obviously caused her pain. Tears in her eyes, her heart beat wildly with thoughts of revenge, its poison seeping into her blood and filling her mind. Swallowing back all the pain and rage and hate, she breathed in deeply, focusing on the little form on the bed.
The monitors beeped, the lights reflecting harshly off the nightgown her sister wore. Alone, she sat on the bed, and held the light of her life in her arms, praying desperately for her to live.
One hour later...
Movement caught her eye, and she rested her gaze on her sister's face. Slowly, the dark eyes she adored opened and squinted against the brightness of the fluorescent lighting.
"Bria?' she whispered, closing her eyes again, breathing deeply and beginning to cough.
"I'm here, sweetheart, Bria's here. I won't ever let you go," she promised. Drawing the small pale hand to her cheek, she placed it against her own, comforted by its warmth.
"Bria, it hurts."
Tears coming again, she could only hold onto her sister's hand and pray.
"Bria," came the insistent voice. She took a deep breath, and looked into her baby sister's eyes.
Her red-gold curls were limp and fanned about her face, no longer matted with blood; her cuts and bruises were bandaged. She knew her own face was just as ugly, but all her pain and anger at her father melted in the light from her sister's eyes: they were as grey as storm clouds and held such misery, she wanted to weep.
"Oh, Meredith, I should have known!" she cried, burying her head in the tiny shoulder beneath her, "I should have known he would do something, something to hurt us. I'm so sorry, Meredith!"
"Bria," the little girl murmured, then she repeated impatiently, "Bria!"
She looked up, and smiled at the familiar expression on Meredith's face. Her sister could never wait.
"Bria, don't cry," her breath hitched, "Bria, it hurts to see you cry. I hurt outside, and it makes me hurt inside. Please don't cry. You know Daddy can't hurt us anymore; he can't hurt anybody."
Choking on a laugh, she answered, "Meredith, I couldn't give a rat's ass if that prick lives or dies; well, I wish he would die, but that won't be his sentence. I never cared that he hit me: I always worried about you. I don't want you to leave!"
This last had been said desperately, hysterics lightly touching her voice.
In a weak imitation of her third grade teacher, the little strawberry-blonde shook her finger at her older sister.
"Briana Lynne Morgan! Don' talk that way; I won't never leave you!"
Suddenly, her little body spasmed, and her hands clutched her heart. She looked at Briana and cried out. In a flash, nurses and a doctor rushed into the room, knocking her out of the way as they warmed up the paddles and zapped the little girl. Within a few seconds, a soft but steady heartbeat came on, and Briana took her place at Meredith's side. The little girl smiled weakly at her sister.
"Bria," she said faintly, "Is the angel right?"
Her heart caught in her throat, she asked, "What angel, sweetheart?"
"I fell asleep, and the angel came. She looked like the pictures you have of Mommy; she said it was time for me to come home. Is it time to go home?"
Breathing hard, her heart thudding painfully against her chest, she squeezed her eyes shut, and held her sister to her, rocking her small body.
"Yes," she replied, choking on tears, "Yes, sweetheart. It's time for you to go home with the angel. You go to sleep, baby girl, and when you see the angel, you make her take you to see Mommy. Accept no alternatives, capiche?"
Smiling as she hadn't done for years, Meredith looked up at her beloved sister, her eyes shining with pleasure and relief, and whispered,
"I love you."
The room darkened as the bright little girl's breath died away.
Briana buried her head once again in the flesh of her sister's shoulder, its warmth slowly cooling. Rocked by her loss and grief, she began to shake, not noticing the quiet disappearance of the hospital staff.
No more could she hold in the pain; all her years of building defenses had left her without an escape. All at once the fear, loss, and heartbreak came. She sobbed her sorrow and grief into that tiny shoulder, that beautiful, cold, lifeless shoulder that had held the heart of her sister, the light of her life. Now, once again, a loved one had left her, and she was alone.
Time passed her as she wept her grief and heartache. The sounds of the ward faded from her hearing as she sobbed bitter tears and rage at her aloneness in the world. Suddenly all the rage, the pain, the hurt, the bitterness and shame became too much. She pushed the little body from her; standing up, she began to pace the room, looking everywhere except the metal bed, the sterilized sheets, and the pale little body beneath them.
Her thoughts were muddled and rambling; she began muttering to herself in a low voice that frightened the night-nurse. Alarmed, she ran to get her superior, a stern, motherly-type woman named Ellen.
"Come, here, dear," she crooned softly, "Come sit here with me, and have a good cry."
Ellen placed a wrinkled hand on Briana's arm gently.
Wrenching her body as if she had been burned, Briana looked up, madness in her eyes, and let out a horrible scream before she fled out of the room. Ellen called for security to stop her.
/I have to get AWAY!/
"Meredith, oh Meredith!"
/I failed you! I failed you!/
Her legs shook with awareness; her body surged with adrenaline.
/She's gone, she's gone, she's gone! I can't stay, got to leave, got to get out, got to get AWAY! AWAY!/
She pelted down the hallway, pummeling right on through the security guard who stepped in front of her. She ran so fast, she didn't even hear the sickening crack as his skull connected to the floor. Running, always running, she bolted from the hospital doors.
The rain surged from the skies and the clouds were black; uncaring, she ran without stopping. Barreling down the stone steps, she exploded onto the street, right into the path of a speeding Mack truck.
Light engulfed her from the gigantic headlights, and time slowed again as she stood dumbly in front of the oncoming grill, oddly feeling relief.
Something was strange, he could sense it. There was a presence in the Forest that was different; whether it was for good or ill, he couldn't say, yet it was there all the same.
"Eönwë! Call for a scouting party."
"You feel it as well, my Lord?" asked the servant, already knowing the answer.
"Yes; I must speak with my father."
The fair Prince strode from the library, leaving the servant to do his bidding.
"Ah, Legolas, how fare you, my son?" asked the tall blond Elf, seated on the dais and wearing the coronet of the Woodland Realm.
"There is a disturbance, Father. I have felt it, as have others. I wish to lead a scouting party to discover its whereabouts and purpose."
"Very well, my son; make use of the swifter horses, for if it be an injured party, they may require urgent care."
The equally tall and blond younger Elf bowed, and left to make the arrangements.
Fifteen Elves and their fastest horses were soon ready and waiting for their prince to make his appearance. They did not see him silently watching them from the shadows of his father's palace.
/Lómirion, Tinaril, Talith, Sil-Gandel/ he mused, /Legothiel, Fáralith, Taviel, Miolas, Nadrien, Haldith, the twins Rylindë and Urelindë, their brother Elenion, Isénduil and Thraldor./
They were all strong, brave Elves, swift on horseback and on foot; all were of the best marksmanship among their kind. Of them all though, only the final six were close friends with the heroic Prince Legolas; only they saw the melancholy beneath his fair face and manners. So it was that they were the first to notice his gaze, and turn accordingly; the others soon followed.
Coming forward into the sunlight, his eyes were a distant blue, his gaze direct and piercing to those astride before him.
"You have all felt the strange presence in the forest," he said, his eyes somber, "With the favor of Thranduil, we are to discover its purpose: if it be a threat, we are to handle it, and return. That is all."
He swung himself up into his saddle.
"Arod, noro lim!"
Noro lim ride fast