Fandoms: BtVS & LOTR (the Silmarillion actually)
Disclaimer: I don't own BtVS or LOTR, the Silmarillion and related works. The lyrics included are from 'Forsaken' by Within Temptation. I don't own the quote at the end either. The title belongs to Tolkien.
When: sometime in early season 2 for BtVS
Summary: Buffy dreams of a land long sunk under the waves.
A/N: Another rather random find and inspiration. People not very familiar with at least the downfall of Numenor could find this a bit confusing to follow. I have edited out the lyrics. The full version can be found at Twisting the Hellmouth.
With a choked back scream Buffy woke up from another of her nightmares. She was breathing heavily, an unseen fear gripping her as she tried to remember the dream. Unlike her prophetic Slayer dreams she could never remember this one. Only a sense of sheer terror and a voice lost in the wind stayed with her when she woke. She shivered in an echo of memory, close to tears.
A quick glance out of the window told her it was not yet dawn, with only the slightest lightening of the sky hinting at the coming morning. Her clock told the same story. She had been waking around the same time for the past week with the half remembered dream floating at the edge of her consciousness.
She ran a hand through her hair in frustration, the terror of the dream fading with the encroaching morning light. She yearned to remember the dream and yet feared it. It was distracting her to pieces, but luckily, her friends hadn't noticed yet. She sighed wearily and made her slow way out of bed to prepare for another day.
Buffy made her way to the school library after school, going to report to Giles about last night's patrol. It was unusually quiet for this time of day, when either Willow or Xander would be present. Sunlight streamed through the windows, giving a little cheerful gleam to the otherwise gloomy atmosphere. She found Giles quietly working away at the big center table, stacks of books surrounding him. He continued scribbling away on a sheet of paper only turning to look at her when she came to stand in front of him.
"Welcome to the land of Giles – where pouring over dusty old books is an everyday delight!" she quipped.
"Ah, Buffy! Good, good, just let me finish this paragraph – it's frightfully interesting reading even though this transcribing business is about as interesting as watching paint dry."
She looked at his notes upside down, offhandedly commenting, "You know, that would imply that you did watch paint dry." She was rewarded with a slightly flustered, but mostly exasperated look as Giles paused from his writing.
"It can be a remarkably interesting pastime, I'll have you know, Buffy," he somewhat stiffly said. She just grinned and plopped into the seat next to him, leaning towards the ancient texts he was in the process of rewriting.
"So, what's this all about? Any baddies on the horizon, apocalyptic research incoming?" she picked up a slim, dusty volume for further inspection, idly flipping through the yellowed and fading pages. She had the feeling it would crumble between her fingers if she applied any more pressure.
"Oh, no. It's actually been very quiet so I took the opportunity to copy some of the…ah…older texts. It's appalling, the lack of care some of them get. These are priceless texts, centuries old, copies of even older texts – it would be an irrecoverable loss of knowledge if these were to perish. As such, a translation and newer bindings are essential. I've been meaning to ask Willow's help in scanning the images to that infernal machine as well. My drawing skills are not such to successfully reproduce the images." He noticed her flipping through the book and gave an alarmed twitter.
"Do be careful with that, Buffy. I've only started to translate that particular volume – the dialect is a bit obscure…it deals with something about an ancient island? In any case, it's more than my life's worth if it's damaged." Buffy smiled sheepishly and gently put it back down, trying to look like she hadn't just been caught treating the book like a magazine. Giles just shot her a reproachful look and turned back to writing, pausing to squint now and then at the faded words before him.
"I trust that patrol was unsuccessful?" he asked after a short while in which Buffy had been growing restless. She immediately perked up.
"Oh, you know same old, same old. Dusted a couple of vamps at the cemetery, two more on the way home. Nothing suspicious or out of the ordinary…well, for Sunnydale at least," she refrained from mentioning her dreams; it was something she could deal with on her own, "And I can see that there's nothing new here of an impending doom nature. I'll just make a sweep before hitting the sack. Saving my strength and all that."
Giles took off his glasses and wiped them clean. "Saving your strength for what, exactly?"
She gave him a look. "Giles, quiet weekend in Sunnydale after a whole week of quietness?"
He paused. "Good point. I'll bring out the stakes. Training session tomorrow after your classes?"
Buffy nodded distractedly. "Yeah. Better make sure I'll be working properly for whatever's up next."
Giles had been about to answer, but was interrupted at that moment by the entrance of Willow and Xander, both who were arguing together good-naturedly.
The wind was whipping across the land, driving the dark clouds ever onward, howling in its intensity, drowning out the far voice singing. Lightening flashed in the sky, rumbling thunder following at its heels. The fairness of the island was shadowed, a terrible darkness covering it as it trembled and quaked. The horizon was red, a testament to the raging fires and chaos in the royal city nearby – a payment for all of the faithful souls slain there in a mocking debauchery of the sacred rites. The screams of the people in the city could not be heard from the distance and raging wind. Above it all, the roaring of the waves sounded.
A lone figure ran upwards, leaving the foot of the mountain behind as she strove to get to the hallowed ground reaching up to the sky. The path was well worn, quickly becoming slick with the pounding rain that had started to fall. Buffy paid the rain and the singing voice no heed, running along the seemingly endless path, desperate to reach the top. Her tears mingled with the rain, her feet skidded and slipped, her lungs were burning but still she ran.
A branch whipped across her face, but she did not pause. The stone path was becoming overgrown, abandoned in recent times as no one had dared to venture up. She did not let it stop her, only knowing that a gripping dread and grief were pushing her forwards. She did not know why she ran or the reason for her terrible grief. Buffy did not question her lack of strength or the elegant gown that slowed her down in her desperate ascent. The fiery glow, the darkness around her and the shaking of the ground meant everything and nothing to her. It was all foreign, but her soul sang with its familiarity. She had seen this place before; however, she did not stop to contemplate how that could be. She ran, blond hair whipping behind her, the faint voice up ahead becoming clearer.
The ground beneath her feet disappeared as it gave a sickening lurch. Buffy rose to her feet, her once pristine dress spattered with blood, sweat and mud. She stumbled, sobbing and gasping for breath, her hair plastered to her head in thick strands, before resuming her steep upwards trek. She could not give up now, with the lower half of the towering mountain behind her. But the going was difficult, made so by the falling rain and wailing wind. Rivulets of mud sped down the stone path under her feet, sloshing with the violent trembles coming from the earth. One misstep and she could easily fall into a sooner death.
As she rounded a bend she suddenly caught sight of a figure standing calmly in the raging gale, unaffected by the rain and shaking ground. The figure seemed otherworldly, with a grace rarely seen in Men. It gave her a pause, her heart giving a lurch. Was there hope yet? What Buffy hoped for remained a mystery. Yet, as she listened to the haunting figure before her singing a dread filled her once more.
The figure was not much taller than her, standing fair and proud to the raging chaos below. The figure's profile was in Buffy's view, but she could not make out the figure's face. It was a woman, her bearing regal, her voice sad and haunting, hands clasped in front of her. Like the whole nightmarish setting, the woman had a familiarity to her. She was untouched by the rain; a calm in the middle of a storm. Her eyes were fixed on the distant horizon still glowing with a fiery haze. Her frantic climb forgotten, Buffy turned to look.
What she saw filled her with despair. Suddenly she knew – the woman was singing about her, about her people. Their doom for breaking the ban of the Valar was upon them in the form of a great tidal wave rising to meet the island of Gift. Waves thrashed at Numenor's shore, mirroring the memories invading Buffy's senses. The last shreds of peace and hope were ripped from her as she remembered. Ar-Pharazon, the burning of Nimloth, silky, poisoned words from the Lord of Gifts, the futile hope that sails would appear on the western horizon, all came crashing down on her in a torrent. An unhappy life, led in the darkest days of Atalante's long history was relived in the blink of an eye as the elements violently proclaimed the Valar's retribution.
She turned to face the woman standing next to her. Slowly, still singing, the stranger turned toward her, black hair being tossed by the wind. Her grey eyes pierced Buffy's soul. A single tear fell down upon the stranger's cheek, like a lone star might shine through a cloudy night. She was a chilling contrast to Buffy's bedraggled appearance.
With a cry of horror, Buffy stumbled backwards, finally recognizing the face in front of her. She began to sob harder, knowing that there was no escape. The vengeance of the Valar was without mercy. That knowledge was held in the face of the woman before her – the woman with her features – her face; the woman with the sea grey eyes who was watching Buffy with a sadness terrible to behold.
Suddenly, Buffy was running upwards once more, raven hair streaming behind her, breathing heavily, hoping against hope that she would make it. Her voice haunted her steps as she tried to keep her balance on the moving ground. Despair filled her anew for her people, for the Faithful, for all that her people had achieved, for her fair island of Numenor now being ripped apart by the surging of the sea and the trembling of the earth. She cried for its glorious cities, its mighty ships, its knowledge and forgotten wisdom, its people mislead by sweetened lies, its pride and dignity at the height of its power, now lying ruined and burning, soon to be forgotten under the water.
The wave rose and crashed upon the island of Elenna, drowning its proud people, its sprawling cities, its rolling green hills under the surging sea. All of its glory, power, knowledge and wisdom sank under the tumultuous water. But still Buffy ran, a fool's hope filling her, a wish that Elendil, at least, would escape and bear at least a little remnant of Numenor from its shores. The water closed about the center of the island, not yet reaching the high mountain of Meneltarma.
Buffy ran, knowing that she could not make it. She stumbled at the last, hearing the water and gale roaring about her, the ground almost ripping asunder from the tremors. Finally, she gave up and fell to the ground. Sobs wracked her body. The waters churned around her. She gave a last keening wail before she was engulfed forever beneath the sea's depths, the echoes of the song lost in the wind and mixing with Sauron's terrible laughter.
Buffy gasped awake, tears still streaming from her face, the dream a vivid memory in her mind's eye. She was breathing like she had run a mile, still gasping for breath, sitting up in her bed, not yet fully aware of her surroundings. She remembered it all now – her desperate climb, the dying screams of Atalante's people, the strange, yet familiar woman with her face and the running, always the running. There were more memories clamoring for her attention, glimpses of a happy childhood overshadowed by the grief and despair of an unhappy marriage. But those memories did not hold her in their grip as the most recent ones.
The feel of water closing in about her after her long and futile struggle up the mountain almost made her lose control. She choked back a sob, closing her eyes against the normalcy of her room, only to have images of a people lost dancing in her mind. She lay back down on her bed, trying to make sense of it all. Blankly, she stared out pf her window, not really seeing the light of the encroaching dawn, but a red horizon as magnificent cities burned. Still silently crying, she slipped back into sleep.
Buffy wearily opened the library doors. The strain of pretending everything was all right after the night that she had, had been even more draining. The dream was now a quiet blur, but she knew that she would remember everything in more detail than she cared to if she only concentrated. She had cried herself to sleep, wondering where the dream, no –nightmare had come from. It had all felt so real, so vivid. She knew it could not have happened. She had never been on any such island, or even heard of such a thing happening recently. It was just a dream. Her heart, however, cried out differently.
The library itself was silent. Giles was probably in the back looking up something or other, she mused. His work from yesterday was strewn in neat little piles all over the large table. The old books were replaced in their boxes and Buffy had a silent moment of appreciation that anyone could be so dedicated and finish such a large job so quickly. She approached the table, idly noting that it was all very organized as well. Trust Giles to do it so efficiently as well.
She plopped down in a chair like any other day, trying to forget anything related to sinking islands, raging waters, the whole works. To pass the time, she picked up one of the papers on the table, figuring Giles wouldn't mind her fiddling with something new and freshly written. What she read made the blood drain from her face and bolt from the library.
"Buffy?" Giles called from behind a bookshelf. He made his way around it, a tome in his hands. Only silence met his question; he did not notice the slight swinging of the doors as he made his way to the table.
"I could have sworn…"he noticed the paper on the floor and bent to pick it up. He glanced at it, seeing it was a part of one the oldest books he had copied. It dealt with an ancient tale of the history of an island, thought to be lost under the waves. It had fascinating similarities to Atlantis and this was one story he had just been researching deeper.
He left the paper on the table, still puzzled, but putting it out of his mind as he went about his work.
Buffy ran down the street into a cemetery, trying to outrun the clamoring memories and the words she had just read. It was proof that her dream was real; a remnant of elder days and a life lived long ago. Why, she wanted to scream, the tears she could not shed before falling down now with a vengeance. "I had ever been Faithful!" she cried to the uncaring sky. She was momentarily lost in the person she had been, not heeding the danger she put herself in, in doing so. She fell to the ground in a heap, sobbing, crying for herself and what she had lost.
A while later, a sad smile was on her face as she remembered once again the words engraved in her memory. Her cousins had made it, at least to tell the tale. A small part of Akallabeth the Downfallen lived in her and in those words. It was not enough, but it gave her hope.
In an hour unlooked for by Men this doom befell, on the nine and thirtieth day since the passing of the fleets. Then suddenly fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth, and the sky reeled, and the hills slid, and Numenor went down into the sea, with all its children and its wives and its maidens and its ladies proud; and all its gardens and its halls and it towers, its tombs and its riches, and its jewels and its webs and its things painted and carven, and its laughter and its mirth and its music, its wisdom and it lore; they vanished forever. And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Miriel the Queen, fairer than silver or ivory or pearls. Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind.