Disclaimer: Anything you recognize as Tolkien's is not mine.
Chapter 1: Questions
The bright sun trickled through the trees and into the forest of Lothlórien as noon time approached. All of the wildlife was awake and active with energy. The clouds danced across the sky and the water splashed through the rivers, just as it had always done before. Yet somehow, this day was different.
If you sat long enough and listened, you would notice subtle differences in the forest. The usual hum of animal chatter and the soft whisper of the trees had grown more intense. The calm order that could usually be found in the forest was no longer there. It was replaced by great commotion.
A new curiosity coupled with a hint of confusion hung in the air. Something was not right. It could hardly be described as wrong though. In fact, it was neither wrong nor right, it was just different. If you listened long enough and hard enough, you would be able to hear one word echoing softly through the forest; stranger.
It was this whispering that alerted the elves to the presence of another. Most did not take much notice of it, for few were listening so intently, and those that were knew that the patrol groups would handle the issue as they saw fit. There was never much of anything to worry about; the city of Caras Galadhorn was well protected.
It was this new change that had awoken the patrols from their lazy daydreams. Most had been sitting around the main patrol deck while the others went up to the northern border; orcs had been spotted there recently. They were all lounging around, casually talking to one another and waiting for their orders when a young blond elf raced up the stairs. He stopped in front of a tall elf with silver-blond hair and piercing blue eyes. He had a strong body frame and stern face.
"There is an intruder in the wood Captain Haldir," the elf said.
"Thank you Huor, many others have told me such, and I have heard it in the trees as well," Haldir replied smoothly, his eyes never leaving the map before him. He turned to one of his brothers, Rúmil, who stood at his side and issued a short series of commands before turning back to Huor.
Huor's excited mood calmed a bit by this point. He was disappointed to a small degree that Haldir dismissed the news he had brought so quickly. He had just joined the patrol groups and greatly admired Haldir. He was hoping to have brought him knew news in the hopes that Haldir would be impressed or at least think well of him. "None however know much about the intruder. Do you know anything?" Haldir continued.
"I only saw from a distance, but the intruder was just gaining consciousness and was unarmed. I am guessing that he or she was wounded but I am not assuming anything." Huor carefully observed Haldir to see how his captain would handle the situation. Learning from how Haldir handled the assorted situations he was met with would be the only way he would improve and rise in ranking among the wardens. As usual however, Haldir's face was unreadable. The only indication he gave that he was even considering Huor's words was a slight furrow of his brow.
Haldir took a moment to consider what he had been told. He would probably be able to go out himself and bring back the intruder if it was necessary, assuming it was not an orc of course. Should he bring other wardens with him just in case? His frown deepened. No, it was only one, he should be able to handle it and leave Orophin in charge for the time being. Rúmil already had his orders.
"How far away is this being?" he asked at last, resting his hands on the table and leaning over it marginally to fix his stern gaze on Huor.
"Four hours, my lord." Haldir eyes narrowed slightly as he thought. This meant he could be there in three if he made good time, two if he ran, and back possibly before the sun fell.
"You are positive that it carried no weapons?" he asked.
"Yes my lord," Huor replied, nodding his head vigorously.
"Where is it?" he asked, straightening and coming around to the other side of the table.
"It is just on the other side of the eastern river where the orcs were killed last night." Haldir tensed visibly, making Huor cringe. He knew Haldir was not pleased by this news in the least. Haldir wet his lips and cast his gaze to the ground, his frown deepening. This altered things slightly. The elves he had sent out to stop the party of orcs all said that they were positive that there was no life left. He hated careless mistakes. If there was one alive, there could possibly be more.
"Thank you Huor," he said at last, giving the young ellon an approving glance. "You have helped me greatly." Huor beamed with pride. "Orophin!" Haldir called.
"Yes, Haldir?" Orophin asked, arriving almost instantly. While Orophin was more at ease, a cheerful glow often encompassing him, he was no less proficient in battle and could be trusted to do things correctly.
"I am going out in search of the intruder, you are in charge, Rúmil has the orders for his patrol. Send the others on their way as you see fit. Ensure that extra care is taken near the Northern Edge." Orophin nodded and quickly Haldir set off through the patrol platforms in the direction of the intruder.
A warm feeling washed over her as she slowly felt consciousness drift back into her body. First came her head, then her arms, her legs, then her lower body, and lastly her torso and neck. She slowly opened her eyes, which felt so heavy with exhaustion but shut them instantly at the searing pain that shot through her head. Why was it so bright?
She moaned and moved her head to the side, feeling something crunch softly under the weight of her cheek. She moved her hand up to her head, fingers lightly brushing over the back of her head where she found a large lump. How had that gotten there?
Carefully and slowly, she rolled over on her side. She propped herself up on her elbows, wincing at the soreness and stiffness she felt all over. What had happened to her? After a few moments, she managed to sit up. When the world stopped spinning, she carefully stood. She put her hand out to a near by tree and leaned on it for support. She was so tired. It was as though she had been running for hours and hours.
Looking at her surroundings, she yelped and felt tears well up. All around her were horrid looking creatures; all dead. Their faces were contorted into looks of pain and their eyes were still opened. It seemed as though some were looking straight at her. The ground was shattered with dark purple blood and long sticks protruded from the bodies of many of the creatures. Her stomach rolled and she dropped to her knees. A wave of nausea came over her, and she felt as though she would throw up at any moment.
What had happened here? So many questions plagued her mind. She was so alone and confused. Where was she? How had she gotten here? Her mind turned back to the creatures around her. Did they have families? It was of no matter now; they would never see them again if they did. What were they? She had never seen anything like them … or … at least …she thought she hadn't. Now that she stopped to take the time to think, she couldn't remember. She couldn't remember anything at all! Her mind was blank. She could not even recall her own name!
Panic worked its way into her mind and her breathing began to come quicker. What was she going to do? How was she going to live? She was all alone with no memory or knowledge of anything. She closed her eyes tightly, fighting back the tears and took a deep breath. Panicking would not get her anywhere at all.
She opened her eyes again and looked around, examining her surroundings so she could decide what to do next. She was surrounded by trees, and there didn't appear to be an end to the forest. Behind her was a rushing river. It was fairly wide, perhaps about fifteen feet didn't appear to be too deep, yet it was flowing swiftly. If she was careful, she would be able to cross it safely.
She shivered as she stuck her foot in the water. It was so cold! She gingerly lowered herself into the river, the water swirling around her thighs. She felt the current push her legs from under her and she yelped as she plunged under the water. She flailed her arms out and grabbed hold of a rock. She pulled herself up out of the water and struggled to the other side of the river. Wiping the water from her eyes, she stood up and continued walking through the forest.
Maybe someone is looking for me, she thought. Or maybe they left you in the forest because they didn't want you, the irrational part of her mind retorted. She shook her head to clear away her thoughts and continued walking. As she walked, she looked around at the forest. The trees were immensely tall with silver trunks and bright green leaves. They filled her with a sense of comfort.
Small yet beautiful creatures with wings soared through the sky, singing beautiful tunes as they went; she could not remember what they were called though. She decided that she liked these creatures much better than the ones she had seen earlier. She shuddered visibly at the thought. She looked up at the sky, the clouds just barely visible through the treetops. She grinned as another one of the flying animals flew overhead, singing a beautiful song.
When she looked forward again, she found a person standing in front of her. He was tall with silver blond hair and eyes that were very blue. Like some of the flying animals, she thought. His ears were pointed and his face was stern. In his hand he held a long, curved piece of pale wood with a string joining the two ends, making it look like half of an oval. The other hand was used to hold a long stick with a triangular shaped blade on the end to the curved piece of wood.
She frowned and looked at the wooden stick in his hand. Her stomach lurched when she realized that she had seen the same sticks coming from out of the bodies of the ugly creatures she had seen earlier. This person was a killer! She gasped, recoiling away from him and debating in her mind what to do. If she ran, he might kill her, but if she didn't, who knew what would happen.
"What business do you have in the Golden Wood?" he asked firmly.
"I … I … I" Was this the Golden Wood? If it was, she did not know why she was here. She didn't even know how she had gotten there in the first place. Fear clouded her mind and she slowly began to back away from him.
"Well?" he said impatiently.
"I do not know," she whispered. His eyes narrowed.
"Who are you?" he asked. Feeling like a cornered animal, she followed her instinct and ran. She screamed when she felt a pair of strong arms wrap around her waist.
"Let go of me! I did not do anything!" she yelled. I hope I did not, she added mentally.
"Who are you?!" he asked again.
"I do not know!" She brought his arm up to her mouth and bit it hard. He yelped and loosened his grip long enough for her to escape.
"If you run I will shoot you," he said warningly. She froze in her tracks and turned around. He held the wooden sticks in his hands again and they were aimed at her. He lowered his bow slightly and took a step forward. She instantly took a step back and winced as she hit something hard. She had backed into a tree. I must have injuries on my back as well, she thought grimly.
She franticly looked around her for an escape. The man's eyes softened when he saw how afraid she was. He lowered his bow and held out his hand to her.
"Come, I mean you no harm," he said.
"Do you expect me to believe you after you threatened me?" He paused to think.
"Yes," he said after a moment.
"Why should I?"
"Because you are lost, and alone, and do not know where you are going," he replied. She bit her lip and looked down.
"Fine," she whispered. Eyes never leaving the ground, she took a step forward to stand next to him. He frowned as he looked her over. She was wearing a dress with an indeterminable color due to the amount of dirt and filth on it. Her dress was tattered and torn in many places as well. There appeared to be many bruises on her arms, legs and as well as on her face. Her long black hair was tangled and had a few leaves in it. What happened to her?
"What happened to you?" he asked, a frown creasing his brow.
"I don't remember," she replied quietly, not looking up to meet his eyes.
"Very well, you do not have to tell me if that is your wish. What is your name?"
"I do not know that either," she said.
"How can you not know your own name?" he asked, growing slightly impatient with her lack of cooperation.
"I do not remember," she said, looking at the ground. He rolled his eyes and started walking. She quickly followed, trying to keep up with his long strides.
"Who are you?" she asked.
"I am Haldir, High Marchwarden of the Lothlórien guard," he replied, not bothering to look back at her.
"Why are your ears pointed?" Haldir raised his eyebrows at this question.
"Why are they pointed? What kind of question is that?"
"I don't know. Why are they pointed? Are they supposed to be that way? Did something happen to you? I imagine it would hurt a great deal if someone shaped them that way, unless you were born like that of course," she persisted.
"Yes they are supposed to be that way, I am an elf, like you," he said agitatedly. She is probably trying to annoy me with stupid questions. I can not wait until I get rid of her.
"I am an elf?"
"Yes," he replied with an irritated sigh.
"Oh," she said softly, frowning at the ground. "What is an elf?"
"What is wrong with you?!" he said, his patience snapping. "Why are you asking so many foolish questions?!"
"I do not know the answers," she mumbled, tears forming in her eyes. What had she done to offend him?
"How can you not know the answers to something so simple?!"
"I can not remember!" she shouted back. "I do not remember anything! Not even my own name! I do not know where I am or how I got here! I do not know why I am here either! That is how!" Haldir inhaled deeply, regarding her with slightly narrowed eyes.
"I see," he said with a frown. He turned and continued walking. That is all he has to say to me? He isn't very social…she said thought to herself. She frowned and followed him. He did not speak to her after that, nor did he give any sign that he was conscious of her presence next to him. She timidly stole glances at Haldir as they walked, perplexed by him.
Haldir did the same of course, keenly observing the maiden when her attention was elsewhere. She was not of Lórien, that was for sure. No one in Lórien had hair that dark. She was possibly from Rivendell or Mirkwood, though there was no way to be sure. He could not determine her age either, as was the way with elves. He frowned, inwardly debating what to do with her. She would need to be taken to the city, there was no doubt about that, but until he could take her back, she also obviously needed to have medical treatment. Her appearance alone said much and the number of bruises on her arms suggested that more damage must have been done
After two hours of walking, she was starting to tire. How much longer did he plan on walking? Haldir noticed her fatigue but was reluctant to slow his pace, they were close anyway.
"How much farther do we have to go?" she asked.
"About two more hours," Haldir replied. She groaned.
"Where are we going?"
"To the city of Caras Galadhorn."
"Where is that?"
"Is that where we are now?"
"What is an elf?"
"Why don't you stop asking questions hm? I think that is a good idea."
"If you do not tell me the answers then who will?"
"Someone who has the patience to deal with you will."
"Why don't you? You are the only one here and we have to travel for two more hours. It would be awkward to walk in silence."
"Well for me it would be pleasurable," he assured her.
"If I am an elf, does that mean that I have pointed ears too?"
"Why don't you feel for yourself." She raised her eyebrows in mild surprise when she found that they were in fact pointed.
"Do all elves have pointed ears?"
"No, only the special ones," he said dryly.
"So all elves have them?"
"What else to elves do?"
"Not ask questions."
"You are just saying that."
"If only," he mumbled. Aye Valar. The forest was not jesting when it claimed that there was a disturbance. A nuisance would have been more accurate of course, he thought.
Do not ignore her questions, a voice whispered in his mind. She is alone and confused. She does not ask the questions to be annoying. She merely wants to find out who and what she is.
I lack patience Lady Galadriel Haldir replied to the voice in his mind. Lady Galadriel had the power to communicate to people inside their minds, and often did so.
Then you had best find it, she said sternly. Before Haldir could reply, she was gone. Haldir sighed.
"You look very thoughtful," the she-elf said.
"I was thinking," Haldir replied.
"So I noticed. Will you tell me what an elf is now?" she asked.
"Very well. Elves are the fairest beings in all of Middle Earth." She cut him off before he could continue.
"Where is that?"
"You are in it right now."
"I thought I was in Lothlórien."
"Lothlórien is a part of Middle Earth."
"Oh, how big is Middle Earth?"
"Bigger than you can imagine."
"Is Lothlórien big?"
"Substantially so, yes."
"Tell me more about elves." Haldir sighed and continued, pausing every now and then so that she could ask a question.
"Elves are immortal."
"What does that mean?" she asked.
"They never die unless they are killed in battle. They can also die of a broken heart," he answered
"What is that?"
"Being broken hearted is when you feel very sad because of something that happened, and you no longer want to live," he explained
"Yes, it is very sad," Haldir agreed. She frowned when she noticed a certain tinge of sorrow flitter across his features. It left almost as quickly as it came, but there was no mistaking that it had been there.
"Is everyone immortal?" she asked, changing the subject.
"No. Only elves, and wizards."
"I wish I was not immortal."
"Why is that?" he asked.
"What happens if you are friends with beings that are not immortal? You must watch them die. And if something terrible happens to the world around you, you can not do anything about it. You must sit and watch. There is no way to escape it." Haldir frowned. For someone who knew nothing about anything, she seemed rather sensible. "Tell me more," she requested.
"Elves also have excellent hearing and vision. We make no noise when we walk."
"How?" Haldir opened his mouth to speak but then paused
"I do not know, I never thought about actually. I just accepted it."
"Well that seems silly. There is a reason for everything. Anything else?"
"We are immune to sickness and cold."
"Is that all?"
"More or less. Perhaps Lady Galadriel will tell you of the history of the elves if you do not drive her to insanity," he said.
"Perhaps." She smiled widely as another one of the flying creatures flew overhead.
"What are those animals called?" she asked, pointing to the sky
"Those are birds." She frowned at the word, pausing in her steps. A dull ache entered the back of her mind as images flashed before her eyes. She shook her head, frowning in confusion.
"Is something wrong?" Haldir asked.
"No, I … I think I remember something," she said perplexed. Haldir raised his eyebrows in mild surprise.
"Yes, I remember a big tall tree. And there is a platform with a roof on top."
"Yes, a talan! And there are elves, like me, laughing and smiling. And there are many of those…those…animals-"
"Birds?" She nodded
"There are many birds. Everyone is happy."
"Do you remember anything else?"
"No, just the talan and that there are birds there…and a few elves."
"Did it help you remember your name?" he asked hopefully. She sighed.
"No. I still remember nothing about who I am."
"Do you know where it was?" She shook her head.
"No. It was different from the trees here though. They were not silver and they did not glow as much." Haldir frowned.
"You are sure you do not remember your name?"
"Yes, why do you ask?"
"Well I can not just run around calling you elleth," Haldir said.
"Will you give me a name?" she asked.
"You want me to name you?"
"Of course. Why not?" He paused to think.
"Very well. You shall be called Aldarina," he said.
"Aldarina? Alright." She smiled widely and looked up at the sky. "I like that name." Haldir smiled as some of the sadness and confusion left her eyes. They continued walking in silence, Aldarina enjoying the beauty around her while Haldir contemplated the fastest way to her to Caras Galadhorn and more importantly, away from him.