Disclaimer: I have no money, I'm not getting paid for this and I own none of J.R.R. Tolkien's characters or universe. The only things that are my own are my plot and original characters.

A/n: Due to several reviews, this story is now being labelled an AU (alternate universe). I personally didn't feel it was, but I got a reviewer or two who strongly suggested things in this story were incorrect enough to be so.

[Edit: This story was written from 2004 - 2005, when I was a writing newbie and trying something new (for me). At the time, I was overly sensitive to concrit and crit in general, and shoved my epic plans into something much smaller and less satisfying. I will not guarantee quality, but if you opt to read this anyways, I hope you enjoy and keep in mind how old this story is. I leave it up to show how far I've come, and because inexplicably, some people still like it. ;) -Red]

Chapter 1

Ayah Maleese stretched and yawned as she greeted the glimmering early morning light pouring through her open window.

She was glad to be home.

Today was her welcoming ceremony. Ayah had left Rivendell nearly 3 years ago for an Elven Journey across Middle Earth. The journey had been long, hard and sometimes trecherous, but she'd made it back alright. - minus a broken heart - the day before.

The journey had been like nothing she'd ever experienced before. It was boring, chaotic, uneventful, scary, wonderful, fun, full of love, life, death, happiness, sadness - everything.

Ayah had fallen in love with a mortal man, Shaomer, who had not loved her. Nor any woman, for that matter. Shaomer was a man of war, not love. He was an amazing warrior, with precision sword skills. He was arrogant, sometimes foolish, but still very handsome, brave, witty, charming, and strong. Unfortunately, it had been the arrogant, selfish, headstrong, sometimes foolish part of him that had gotten himself killed.

She recalled it all so easily...

Ayah hadn't seen his death clearly. The Elves and Men were riding through a particularly dangerous stretch of land, knowing full well that there were Orcs abundant and they had to be extremely careful. The Journiers would not have chosen that route, but their path they had chosen to take earlier was unexpectedly blocked off by an avalanche.

Everyone made as little noise as possible. All that could be heard was the quiet thudding of hundreds of hooves, and the occasional snap of a twig underfoot.

There was a loud crack of a branch being snapped in half. Horses spooked, the Journiers stopped. The Elven men got their bow and arrows ready. The Men drew their swords. Everyone stood tense, waiting for an Orc to show itself.

Suddenly, whistling out of the thick trees, a large Orc arrow hit a man near the front of the Journiers.


A torrent of wood-dwelling orcs poured from the trees, having lost the element of surprise. Arrows flew every which way. Men went down. Elves went down. Horses, and Elven women...

Men and Elven men rushed to defend against the hungry creatures. Ayah watched in horror - Jendil, her cousin, was shot down. Handur, a good friend, shot down. Oliah and Déltrel ... So many were being shot down!

"RETREAT!" Someone shouted. "GET TO SAFETY!"

Ayah looked wildly around at the fleeing Elves and Men, searching for Shaomer.

"Ayah! Come on!" Ayah's best friend Arwen yelled as she rode past. Arwen rode to the front of the fleeing Journiers and bravely led them away from the battle.

Many Men fought on, giving Arwen more time to retreat. Still Ayah hesitated. She couldn't leave Shaomer... Only hours before had he begun to show his affection growing for her...

"Ayah, you are very beautiful, and I find myself caring more and more each day..."

"AYAH! GET OUT OF HERE!" Shaomer rode by blindly, Orc blood spattered across his chest and dripping from the sword he waved, breaking Ayah's small flashback.

For a moment, the world was in slow motion. Shaomer pulled on the reins of his horse to stop it...he turned to look at Ayah...an arrow sliced into his chest...he gripped his horse in pain...Ayah froze...her insides froze...her voice turned to a block of ice...he began to slide off...

"SHAOMER! NO!" Ayah screamed, and the world's time became normal again. An arrow whipped too close to Ayah, scratching her cheek. She tried to make her horse go forward to get to Shaomer, and another arrow flew too close, ripping a hole in her shoulder. "Ah!" she quickly covered it with her hand and saw a large blue orc aiming right at her. 'Kill me, so that I might be with Shaomer...' she'd thought.

Then someone had snatched the reins of her horse from her hand, yelled, "HIYAH!" sending her horse into action. It had been spooked by the rein exchange and took off running. Ayah held on, crying, wishing she could get to Shaomer.

There was a rush of retreating people around her, and Ayah's horse would not change its mind. It kept running straight and hard, knowing the danger and getting as far from it as it could.

Her chest felt tight, her throat closed. She wanted to get off her horse, run to Shaomer, save him...She couldn't see him. Just his horse's unique spotted head fading into the distance, then gone as orcs overtook it. She knew she couldn't dismount, or she'd be trampled.

"Shaomer! Shaomer, Shaomer..." she screamed, then croaked, her yells getting quieter and more full of sadness, but to no avail. He couldn't hear her.

Hours later, the surviving Men and Elves arrived, battle weary and full of grief for friends and family lost. The Journiers set up their camp in a large, safe, hard to reach cave, far from the battle scene. Hardly anyone spoke, leaving each other to his or her grief.

The cave was filled with the sound of crying and despair. Ayah's sobbing voice was only one among many. She sobbed uncontrollably for a long time. She cried for Jendil. She cried for Handur. She cried for so many friends that had been shot down that day. But most of all, she cried deeply for Shaomer.

During the night, as some sat around camp fires, listening to people cry themselves to sleep, they just looked at Ayah and the others with sad eyes, knowing her grief, some feeling it too. Ayah kept on crying until there were no tears left, until her voice was cracked and raspy, and she could just manage dry rattling sobs.

The next morning, as Ayah lay on her make-shift bed, renewed tears rolling down her face, Arwen came to be with Ayah.

"He was a good man." Arwen said quietly, and rubbed Ayah's back. Ayah silently cried some more. Arwen sat there, just listening, offering no more words, but just merely her presence as a comfort. And it was.

The Journiers stayed in that large cave for quite some time, until people were over their grief enough to move on. It had taken Ayah weeks to firmly accept Shaomer's death, not cry herself to sleep. She wasn't eating, she wasn't really sleeping (she'd cry herself to sleep, have a nightmare about Shaomer, then wake up and not sleep). People started to comment that she looked hollow, and nearly dead. Ayah didn't care.

Finally, the day before the Journiers were to leave the cave, Arwen led Ayah down to the river bank.

"I assume you're wondering why we are here." Arwen said.

Ayah merely blinked to indicate she'd heard what Arwen had said. Ayah had stopped talking to people altogether.

Arwen half-nodded, expecting that type of response, or lack there of. "Before you see your reflection, I'd like to remind you, Ayah, of the two things that can kill an Elf. Slain, or heart break. And you are dangerously close to death number 2."

Ayah shot Arwen an 'I am not!' look, but Arwen stopped with her own, 'Yes you are and you know it' look.

"You've lost so much weight. I'm really worried about you, Ayah! I don't want you to die." Arwen said genuinely, and quietly. "Now, look at your reflection."

Arwen had chosen a small spot of the river that was exceptionally clear, with no ripples. Ayah could see her reflection clearly, and it scared her.

She look sickly thin, really pale, and that she might break at any moment. Her skin appeared stretched, and like one bump would cause it split open. Her once long golden blonde hair was stringy and nearly dark brown. Her eyes were dead coal like eyes, in dark sunken eye sockets, placed on a gaunt face. Her cheekbones and nose stuck out unnaturally and her lips were cracked and scabby from lack of water.

She'd made sort of a choked scream, then collapsed on the ground crying again. Right then, Arwen had brought Ayah back to reality. Shaomer was dead. He was, and he wasn't coming back. She had loved him. She would find another. She would die if she didn't eat or drink. She would die.

So Ayah had moved on. She would never forget him, never stop loving him, but she just moved on. She took the ring he had given her, placed it in her pack, and joined the Journiers with a full stomach and her hair clean. She was returning to her normal self, and she was glad.

A small knock on Ayah's door brought her out of her memories, back to the present.

Ayah shook her head slightly. That was all in the past.

"Yes? Come in?"

A young Elven woman opened the door and smiled. "The ceremony's to begin shortly, miss."

"Oh yes. Thank you." Ayah smiled back.

The woman nodded and shut the door behind her.

Ayah hurriedly got dressed in the clothes she was to wear to the ceremony, memories still swirling inside her head.

She had picked out a long cranberry red dress, with diamond white trim and sheer sparkling sleeves. She left her long golden hair down, but placed a traditional Elven head band on. It looked like silver leaves and vines intertwined in a small ring around her head.

Ayah didn't consider herself "beautiful", just an average Elven woman, with the same perfect figure, fair and flawless skin. But many had told her that she was easily one of the most fair and beautiful Elven woman.

Ayah left her bedroom and headed for the door, but was stopped as more memories slid through her mind. The day she'd left...

"We're going to miss you." Tarén, her brother said quietly. "I know I'm going to be lonely without you around."

Ayah smiled and hugged him tight. She turned to Anié and Alatatriel.

Anié smiled through her tears. "You're gonna come back alright, right?"

Ayah nodded and hugged Anié.

She turned to Alatatriel who said, "I'll fill you in on everything when you get back."

"And I, you." Ayah said. Just as she hugged Alatatriel, a man named Tarye tapped her on the shoulder.

"I'm sorry, but we must go right away, Miss Ayah." he said and waited beside her.

Ayah wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled. "I'll see you all again soon."

She turned and began to walk away with Tarye. "We must hurry. We need to make The Pass before Sunset." Tarye said urgently and quickened his pace.

Ayah did as well, but took one more glance over shoulder. Her friends and brother stood on the doorstep of her home waving or staring after her.

Ayah faced forward and she saw Arwen gallop up with Tarye's and Ayah's horses in tow. "They're leaving. We must hurry."

Ayah and Tarye mounted and kicked their horses to go.

That's when Ayah heard the yell. "Ayah! Ayah! Wait!"

She looked over her shoulder and saw someone on a white horseback gallop up to Tarén, Anié and Alatatriel. She couldn't see who it was...

She slowed her horse, the someone sped their horse up.

"Ayah! Now!" Arwen said and beckoned. "We can't wait!"

"I'm sorry!" Ayah called to the someone on the white horse and kicked her horse into high gear.

"AYAH!" the someone's calls were urgent, but Ayah knew how important getting to The Pass and catching up with the rest of the Journiers was. She had lingered too long. Much too long, and now it was costing her.

She never looked back.

A/n: How was that? What do you think? Let me know!