I am so sorry for making everyone wait this long. I hope that the fact this is a longer chapter than normal will ease some of the murderous intentions towards me. It is something of a filler chapter so I'll try next time to put some action or whatever in. Thank you everyone who has reviewed and to all my faithful readers. You guys are awesome!
In the following days after the fellowship left, nothing weird happened and Rhov's constant shadowing was beginning to wane much to everyone's relief. Eladan and Elrohir had left to join the Dunedain on the borders of the Shire. Dark creatures from the Northern Mountains had begun to drift down from their cold lairs and the green hills and valleys of the Shire were too good a target to pass up.
I was feeling perfectly fine. Not one weird thing had happened to me since Boromir and the elves were actually willing to to call plain Adlanniel again instead of some name I can't even pronounce that had to do with Mouth of the Maia. At least that's what Rhov said, and I don't entirely trust him; I'm sure it was something far less dramatic. Although Gandalf promised that someone would explain everything to me, Elrond has been far too busy and Rhov seems very unwilling to say anything about the Maia. Arwen says she would tell me if she knew anything, Elrohir said he'd love to know so he couldn't tell me so he could watch me suffer.
Gandalf had also mentioned that I was supposed to watch the Fellowship's journey with Rhov but I was still absolutely mystified if that even made sense. I was no warrior, heck, I nearly killed Glorfindel the other day with a butter knife. On accident. Nor was I a particularly smart individual. Back home, I was an average student, mainly B's with a smattering of A's and C's. No one ever mentioned how talented I was because the only thing I could do fairly well was play piano and only recreational. I couldn't understand how I was "special" or supposed to help the Fellowship or Middle Earth. Drat that Gandalf, always so cryptic!
I was thinking this while munching on a butter cracker I had swiped from the breakfast table, and wandering around the gardens, bored to tears. My own fault of course considering that the Rivendel library was extensive -I can read any language after all (by the way, that doesn't count as natural talent because I didn't have it before my brother's weird machine sent me here)-. But there is only so many books a person can read before it's no longer fun. And all the stuff these people do for entertainment and relaxation is mostly way above my head or skill level. Archery, for example. Forget lending me a sword, and Eru forbid it has anything close to a sharp edge. Harps are fun but there are so many songs I can remember, and these people have to make their music so dratted hard!
The nice thing about scenery, you don't have to be anything special to enjoy it. There was no one moving around since everyone except me actually had something to do. I had even fallen so low as to beg to clean my own room this morning. I used to clean it on my own until the whole Maia and special language incident and now they won't let me do anything menial. I do believe that Arwen has something to do with it and I will have my revenge.
"Adlanniel! You are wanted!" Someone shouted, shattering my peaceful ruminations of how badly I was going to torture Arwen. I turned and Leyla, a sweet but very no-nonsense elf, was striding swiftly towards me; she never runs that one, only bears down on the unfortunate like a great flagship about to ram the poor, humble rowboat in her path.
"Why?" I whined. The only thing people wanted me for around here was to translate something in a book when Elrond was too busy to do it. "It's too nice outside to get stuck in a stuffy library with Eglathad. And his books are always so mind-numbingly boring, just stuff about the medicinal properties of Lone Mountain daisies. Please Leyla, don't let him torture me."
Leyla had borne down on me with impressive speed for someone not running. She is also, like everyone else around here not human, a good half-foot taller than me so she can look down her nose without trying and make me feel like mud puddle in a New York City alley if she wants too. The weird part is, she is also the sweetest thing when she wants to be. "If it was Eglathad, I would have never tried looking for you. Lord Elrond has been searching for you all morning. He and Rhov have a great need to speak with. Haste!"
With that, I was dragged off like a sheep to the slaughter but I wasn't going quietly. "Leyla, they don't need me for anything, it was all a fluke, it had to be. I'm an average student, never doing anything exceptionally crazy, I was going to be a History major in college for Pete's sake!" The woman has muscles of steel, and deaf ears because I was whining so bad the dogs should have started showing up thinking I'd whistled for them.
So with much high-pitched whining from me and firm, silent treatment from the long-suffering Leyla, we made it into the Last Homely House where I tuned down the whine because Leyla may be deaf but there are a lot of other elves at Rivendell with excellent, elven hearing and their tortured gazes as we went past, although hysterical, were pained enough to make me stop.
I have been here how many years and I still act like a sixteen year old. I wonder if my entire being is just in suspended animation. Hm, it was worth considering. I did try to act more up to my Middle-Earth age and began walking silently after Leyla although she still retained her iron grip on my arm.
We swept into the library where I found myself facing Elrond, Rhov, and about five or six elves that I knew only by sight. I didn't even know there names because I rarely saw them. As far as I knew, they were resident ambassadors from Lothlorien and Mirkwood. Generally they kept to themselves, only taking part in the large social occasions of Rivendell. All were looking very stern and just a tad apprehensive if my observational skills were worth anything.
"Leyla." Elrond spoke, his voice deep and serious. "You may leave. Please send the Lady Arwen here."
Leyla curtsied and released my arm, sweeping out of the room. I felt sorry for Arwen. Arwen may have been the Evenstar of her people, a beautiful, strong, and powerful elf, but anyone faced with Leyla on a mission would turn to quivering jello.
Feeling the blood flowing back into my arm, I rubbed and moved to sit on one of the few chairs sitting near the door. In case of a quick escape. I was giving Leyla five minutes to show up with Arwen and if they didn't show up, I was going to be a quick flash of green cotton out the door.
Rhov must have had an inkling of my plan because he raised his eyebrow at me and then glanced towards the library door. Rats. If he was keeping an eye on me for that reason there was no way I could make it out in time.
Elrond and the others remained silent, some of the ambassadors sending me strange glances that I couldn't interpret very well and were making me apprehensive. Rhov's eyebrow also stayed at an upraised position. I wanted so very badly to say something smart but there was a smothering air of ancient something that would just make me look ridiculous. I had to remind myself that these guys could say with complete ease "back five thousand years ago, remember when Galadriel..."
Counting the seconds in my head, I had almost my five minute marker when Arwen drifted in gracefully. Leyla did not accompany her and Arwen made a much more dignified entrance. I hate elves, they just shouldn't be allowed. I may be able to live forever too but they all have such a ridiculous head-start on me, that it's impossible for me to make to their levels of dignity and... whatever.
Elrond nodded at his daughter and motioned her to a seat which she declined. Elves seem to enjoy standing. I guess it's just habit for me to see a chair and sit. The silence continued but now everyone was looking at me.
"What?" I snapped. None of them even moved except one of the strange elves slid his eyes to glance at Elrond. His expression had lost its apprehension and seemed more along the lines of: "Seriously?"
Rhov spoke. "I have had another dream and it seems to be of the same origin. Lady Adlanniel, if you will, we would ask that you translate."
I was furious but terrified at the same time. If these people decided to keep me in the dark and just use me as a translator system they were dead wrong. And they were even deader (is that even a word?) if they thought I wanted to do it. All of this was so strange, so powerful that I did not want to mess with it, especially if they weren't going to tell me anything.
"No." I stated flatly. "You're all way older than me, know much more about what's going on, and I don't like messing with something I don't understand."
One of the strange elves smiled suddenly. It was a very scary, dangerous smile that made my toes freeze. He spoke in a soft, tenor voice that made my spine tingle like crazy. "Lady Adlanniel, these are desperate times for many. I do not care if you cannot understand such things that are far beyond your comprehension. For whatever strange reason, the Valar have decreed you be given a gift to understand the language of the creation and not those who are far wiser. You have no choice. You will do as Lord Elrond commands."
If I hadn't been so fearful of having a long elvish knife in my ribs, I might have gone after the guy. It made me even more wrathful to have someone speak to me so very condescendingly but I just kept telling myself they're how many thousands of years old, be good. It would have been nice to have Rhov or Elrond or even Arwen come to my defense, but none of them did.
Trying to keep the trembling from showing, I folded my hands and sat up straight. Looking the elf right in the eye with every cell in my body telling me to run out of the room screaming, I said as clearly as possible, "The Lord Elrond has not commanded me to do anything. I agree that I am the last person in Middle-Earth who should be able to do whatever it is that I do and personally, I would rather not have such a gift if gift it is."
My voice sounded small, trembly, and whiny. Drat. The elves have complemented me on my clarity of voice when I talk but unfortunately, I was unable to call up my important voice at a time when I really needed it. However, my little speech must have done something for me because the rude elf let go of the smile and merely glared at me. I can handle elf glares, just don't give me the "you-are-so-dead-if-you-twitch" smile.
"I command you, Adlanniel." Elrond said, his voice enviably clear and firm. Rats.
Bowing to the inevitable, I felt more normal. "Fine. What do you want me to do, place my hands on Rhov's head and mumble some old Elvish?"
The tension in the room slackened very slightly. Elrond motioned for me to stand, which I did. In silence the elf is an authority not to be disobeyed. Except when he's not entirely serious. And unfortunately for me, that is one reason why all the elves have been ignoring me. My need to make trouble can't be overridden by something even as serious as the Fellowship and coming war. I can't help it. So since elves seem to be rather single-minded when it comes to being serious, their opinion is that I should be the same way. So rather than scolding me all the time, they just make sure I'm kept away from the serious matters. Unless they need something translated.
I don't get it. These elves have been around for how long? They should know this stuff. There's no need to be hauling me into libraries and translating this and that. Heck, Rhov can pronounce the stupid language, why can't he know the meaning too?
Rhov moved and took my hands gently in his. "It would be easier than telling you. Last time it was very difficult to make sure I was repeating exactly as I had heard. Hearing it directly from the Maia would be simpler."
I couldn't help it, I really couldn't. "What, so you're some super-antenna for Maian frequencies now? I'm not a radio, you know."
There was a chilly silence. Even if they didn't understand most of what I had just said, all the elves in there knew I was making fun of the spectacle. Really, I don't understand how these stupid elves can communicate they way they do and seriously, telekineses would not be my first choice to explain how they do it. I mean, apparently Galadriel can make her voice heard in people's minds but I hadn't heard of anyone else who could do it so clearly. See, this is why I need someone to sit down and explain some things. And all the time I spend in Mirkwood doesn't count because the woodelves are more normal; if an elf can be equated with normality that is.
"OK, fine." I muttered and I felt Rhov's hands squeeze mine gently, as if in encouragement. So maybe he was on my side, or at least understood my feelings. "Do what you have to. I'll try and stay awake this time."
"She's not joking." I heard Arwen say.
"Now, lean towards me." Rhov said softly. I looked up at his face, into his bright green eyes and they smiled at me. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. I leaned towards him and he bent forward until our foreheads touched. "Close your eyes." was the silent command. Not bad at all.
A soft peace settled slowly over me. Then I began to see strange pictures as if they were drawn on the back of my closed eyelids. Not so nauseating as the first time but they came and went quickly, barely giving me time to understand what they were. The deepest voice I had ever heard in my life began speaking and the pictures stopped and everything became absolutely still except for the voice. It was the same language as before, ancient, powerful, and so very, very frightening. There was no music this time, for which I am eternally grateful because I felt less like a captive and more like a visitor. Maybe a not entirely welcomed visitor but I was allowed.
The voice stopped as suddenly as the pictures and only the blackness remained. It was rather helpful actually because I could think about what I had just seen and heard. The pictures had been so real, I almost felt the feelings of the people... It had been the Fellowship. I could feel the fear, the hope, the friendship, and something else very different. Evil so potent I would much rather be skewered by a elvish smile than have something like that close to me. It was the Ring and it was so strong it seemed to swallow up all the other emotions. Then I could feel a freezing, bone-chilling cold; wet snow, hard rock. Somewhere deep, with no light, a nameless terror.
My eyes opened so suddenly my head started spinning. No strength was left in my legs and I would have crumpled onto the floor like a bag of laundry if Rhov wasn't holding my arms in a death grip. It's not fair. I have to look weak and frail all the time. It would be nice if these incidents didn't leave me looking like a helpless child.
Rhov maneuvered my limp body to the chair and pushed me down into it. "Do not speak. Let the moment pass."
Silence reigned in the library room and I was rather glad Arwen was there because she wrested one of my hands from Rhov and gently spoke to me in Elvish, soft and soothing words of comfort and peace. The thing about understanding all the languages was odd because I could hear the language even though I understood it.
After a while, the dizziness went away. Thank goodness there wasn't that ice cold feel to my skin like the last time. I noticed that the sunlight in the room had changed, it was now a golden glow and shining in from the west windows. I wondered how long I had been in that trance or whatever it was. Definitely more than a few hours since I had been dragged in by Leyla. That had been before mid-morning.
Astounded, I glanced around and not one of the elves was missing and all appeared to be in the same exact places they had been before. I snarled and shoved Rhov's and Arwen's hands away. Their patience was disgustingly perfect. They all stared at me in surprise. I guess my expression had been pretty frightening and I noticed a couple of the strange elves were holding their robes as if to pull out a dagger if I went off the deep end. I grinned maliciously. "I though you weren't afraid of us little, weak humans." My voice was shockingly hoarse and now they did back away a few steps. I sounded like a mad woman. I saw Arwen and Rhov glance at each other and then at Elrond.
Elrond nodded. "Lady Adlanniel, perhaps it would be better if you went to your room and rest. We will speak of this tomorrow."
Elated, I tried to jump out of the chair and realized I could barely move. I was so sore and my whole body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. Rhov picked me up and headed out of the library and towards my room with Arwen following along, one of my hands recaptured in hers.
"I am sorry, Adlanniel." Rhov said softly. "If I had known that such a thing could have happened, I would have found some other way."
I looked up at him and his strange brown face was so puppy-dog sad I had to grin. It really was nice to be carried around like a feather by a handsome elf and be fretted over by Arwen.
"No worries, elf. Besides, there wasn't another way and we all know it. I just hope this is a temporary gift. If ever I wished a gift receipt came with a present if would be this one." I said and tried to pat Rhov's arm but it refused to move. "What happened though? We were in there all day!"
Arwen stroked my hand and shook her beautiful head. "We will not speak of it until tomorrow. My father had ordered you to rest and so you shall. I shall stay with you and make sure that you will be at peace this night."
Rhov nodded. "I as well." He glanced down at my incredulous face and gave me a tight smile. "I would not have something happen to you. I am at fault for this and it is my duty to keep you safe from harm."
I frowned. How nice, I was his duty. I peeked over at Arwen and she smirked at me. She knew about my wretched crush on Rhov and how much I hoped I was something more than a curiosity to him. I glared back at her and slowly shook my head and immediately felt dizzy. Wretched elf.
Arwen had Rhov set me down on the bed and then kicked him out so she could prepare me for sleep. As strong as elves are, Arwen still couldn't haul me around like Rhov could so she just helped me haul off my green overdress, pull of my soft boots, and braid my hair. Covering me up with the blanket, Arwen began to sing a soft elvish lullaby I recognized from time when Legolas would sing it to me when I was feeling particularly homesick.
I remember the door opening and Rhov and Arwen both conversing softly and then I was out like someone had hit me over the head with a two-by-four. Acting as a radio for the Maian frequencies was certainly energy draining and I instantly felt for my poor radio back home that I always had on.
I awoke to the sound of a tenor voice singing a Mirkwood drinking song. There are times when I really hate the fact that I can understand everything. Woodelves like their drink and quite a few other things and I don't enjoy hearing that stuff first thing in the morning.
"Shut up you miserable donkey!" I yelled flinging a pillow in the direction of the voice which silenced instantly and then my eyes opened. I was awake now and felt groggy and grumpy. Wondering if I had actually tossed the pillow, I glanced around. Rhov was holding the pillow with a very stunned look on his face while Arwen stood in the doorway a tray in her hands and her mouth open. They both stared at me until I couldn't stand it.
"What?" I said.
Rhov lost his shocked expression and grimaced at me dropping the pillow. "Finally awake, are we?"
"Less formal this morning, are we?" I grouched back. If I remembered right, he and Arwen had been speaking with incredible formal Elvish last night. Last night? "How long have I been asleep?" I asked as Arwen shut her mouth and set the tray on the table next to my bed.
"Two days, three nights." Rhov said shortly. "You didn't move once all that time. We watched you closely thinking you might stop breathing altogether." He stood up and he did look tired.
"Oh." I said. This was not good. Either I had to become stronger or quit doing this because I just might end up kicking the bucket and then who knows where I would end up.
Arwen sat down on the bed next to me, an extremely serious look on her face. She actually is very scary when she's serious. Whenever she pulls the serious face, I begin regretting all the pranks I've ever played on her. "At least you can hold yourself up now."
I looked down and realized I was sitting up and was feeling normal. "Yes, I'm rather glad about that too. If they ever give me special powers I refuse to be the Iron Man. It's no fun lugging around all that extra weight." I ignored the normal rolling of eyes that went on when I mentioned something foreign and enjoyed being able to lift and lower my own arms without help.
Rhov came and sat down next to Arwen. "Is it possible for you to..." He paused glancing at me calculatingly.
I sighed and nodded. "Yes. Just keep me away from any musical instruments. If I paraphrase it probably won't affect me." At their questioning looks I added, "I don't want to speak their language directly, it has too much power in it."
Rhov nodded and stood up. "I will inform Lord Elrond. In the evening?"
"That is a negative, Ghost Rider." I answered. "I want to get this over with as soon as possible. Arwen and I..." A very loud growl interrupted me and I blushed as Rhov and Arwen smiled shamelessly. "Alright fine. Once I eat something, then we'll have our confab."
Rhov chuckled and strode out of my small room. The second he was gone, I pounced on the tray Arwen had brought. To my supreme disappointment, it was only two full teacups.
"It was for Rhov and I. We didn't know when you would wake up. I'll find you something while you get dressed." Arwen said and she left.
Much as I wanted to get my interview with Elrond out of the way (no doubt the ambassadors would be there as well), I was also quite loathe to say anything. That sleep had somehow cleared everything up like Adobe Photoshop on a blurred and grainy photograph. It was not a very happy scenario I was getting and I was very afraid that what I had seen was supposed to happen and that there was absolutely nothing I or anyone else could do to stop the events. I wasn't even sure if they had already happened or were still a part of the future. I rather hoped I was wrong all the way around.
Pulling out a new underdress from the clothing shelf in the bathroom it struck me that there was no way all of this was happening to me because of my brother's time machine. No matter how strange and mixed-up that genius devil kid was, his machine shouldn't have been able to give me all this strange power. And besides that, none of the Maia stuff had shown up until I got here to Rivendell and the Fellowship had been assembled. Besides, it also couldn't suspend my aging; human bodies are wired to break down and I hadn't even had a cold while I was here. Mulling this over, I fished out the other clothes I needed from the small clothing cabinet and closed the cherry wood doors just as Arwen entered along with a mouth watering smell.
Slipping into the clean underdress, I splashed some water on my face and raced out of the bathroom. Arwen had been followed by one of the kitchen elves who was just setting down a tray heaped with all sorts of delectable food. Ten minutes of silent, serious eating later, I pushed away the empty tray and smiled. Both Arwen and the kitchen elf were glaring at me, arms crossed and brows knitted. Generally, elves like to enjoy their food, taking forever to finish a meal. Gorging is frowned upon.
"I couldn't help it. That food was absolutely delicious and besides, I'm American. We eat food fast but we still enjoy it." I said and then frowned. What I had said was just a tad close to the truth, especially if the food and fast were switched around.
My reverie was broken as the kitchen elf picked up the tray and swept out of the room. Behind his sniff of superiority, I thought I saw a gleam of satisfaction in his round blue eyes. Elves come in all shapes and sizes like humans, and this fellow was the closest to a pudgy elf I'd seen. Feeling much more cheerful with my stomach filled, I finished dressing.
Finally finished, Arwen and I made our way through the Last Homely House to Elrond's private library. I had only been in there a few times but it was my favorite place in the House. It was quiet, peaceful with large windows that were always open with fresh air blowing the sheer curtains gently against the dark brown bookcases. Trees were outside and in every small breeze the tiny leaves rustled a sweet song. I had a feeling that Elrond spend a lot of time in there. No doubt the fact it was such a peaceful room was the reason Elrond had chosen it for my translation. Nice of old Elrond. Of course, he just probably was going to do everything possible to keep the drama from becoming extreme. Not that I blame him, it was bad enough for me, let alone everyone else involved to always be wondering if I was going to die.
We reached the closed doors of the library and I had a thought. Grabbing Arwen's hand before it turned the doorknob, I pulled her back and around the corner. Arwen's face was bemused but not surprised. Considering what I had been through, no doubt she figured I was having second thoughts.
Glancing towards the door to make sure no one had heard us, I turned back to Arwen. "Who are those elves yesterday. I recognized them as the ambassadors from the different elven kingdoms but why were they there?"
Surprised, Arwen said, "It was decided between the lords of the elven realms that these messages of the Maia are for all and so the representatives should be present when the time comes."
I snorted. "Wonderful. I feel like a freak show for the entertainment of bored elves."
Arwen sighed. "What is a 'freak'?"
Really, I should just teach American adjectives to elves just for fun. It was the strangest, funniest, most surreal thing to hear elves say things like "freak" and "moron." I grinned despite my irritation. "A freak is something unheard-of, like a dwarf that could be termed beautiful."
"Ah, I think I somewhat understand. It is a strange word. But, however rude Lord Duilion was, they respect your abilities, Adlanniel, and it is a bitter pill to swallow when a human, and a young girl at that, has gifts and powers beyond any known elf." Arwen said. "Perhaps it would be best if you ignored their presence it would help. Lord Duilion was exceedingly surprised by your..."
"My sass? My ridiculous ignorance of the power, distinction, and respectability of said lordling?" I interrupted.
Arwen cocked her head slightly and gave a rather familiar look of hesitation. "Perhaps. Now we should join my father and the others. If we linger, Rhov will panic and come looking for us. He did not show it, but he was quite distressed while you slept."
A warm glow heated up somewhere in my stomach and I grinned, beside myself with a strange delight. "Worried, was he?" I said and I knew I should have felt very ashamed of myself for making the dark-elf worry, but the fact he was worried was far too interesting and delightful to wallow in shame for.
I noticed Arwen barely restrained herself from rolling her eyes.
"Come." Arwen commanded and grabbed my elbow.
"Alright, I'm coming, no need to haul me around like a little kid." I muttered and yanked my arm out of Arwen's hand.
We entered the library, it's cool and peaceful air calming my nerves that were jangling with different emotions. I was so curious to know exactly what Rhov felt about me or at least thought of me, terrified to have to put myself through another oh-my-gosh-I-feel-like-I'm-about-to-die incident, and definitely annoyed by the stupid Lord Duilion and the other stuck up nincompoops.
All from three days ago were there all looking far more openly curious and apprehensive then before. My curiosity about what had happened during my... trance, rose up and I barely resisted the urge to make Rhov or Arwen tell me right then.
Rhov pulled out a chair and motioned for me to sit down. "It will be more comfortable, Lady Adlanniel."
Needing no second urging, I immediately sat down and felt Rhov's hand touch my shoulder gently before he moved away. The one problem I realized by sitting was that I now had to crane my neck to look at the others.
"Perhaps you could all sit down as well?" I said tentatively. "I would hate to recite my lines with a crick in my neck. In plays, I do believe that the actor makes the audience crane their heads for a better look rather then the other way around." While I felt rather worse than just some actor on a stage, the constant staring was equivalent.
Arwen touched her father gently on his robed shoulder. "She told me earlier your presence makes her feel as a... a freak?" She glanced questioningly towards me, no doubt wondering if she had said the word correctly.
Biting my lip to keep the laughter from exploding out, I merely nodded hastily as the elves in the room turned their high-powered eyes towards Arwen who was blushing slightly.
"Very well." Elrond acquiesced and all found chairs and sat down. Rhov had moved from behind me and taken a seat directly across from me next to Arwen and Lord Elrond. The other elves had situated themselves so that it was a semicircle facing my seat. I felt like a criminal on trial with the entire Supreme Court about ready to bring down their verdict of dire judgment on my head.
That dratted silence drifted over us all. Nervous and scared I looked at Rhov, hoping for some kind look from him. His green eyes were soft, like the moss growing next to the river and he smiled gently and nodded very slightly. Gripping the arms of my chair, I closed my eyes and went back over what I had seen, heard, felt. The surprising part was that I didn't feel any danger, no fear, nothing.