Author's Note: So I was hoping to be able to finish the entire fan fiction (FotR through Post RotK) by this coming spring, but I'm only one third of the way through, and I simply COULD NOT WAIT to publish. At all. The poll thing was kind of just a... um... muse? Heh, anyway, this is the second draft of "A Daughter of Kings," and is, I think, much improved. But we shall see...
Title: A Daughter of Kings
Date Officially Started: May 2005
Rating: PG-13 (parents cautioned) Some violence, frightening images, and adult situations
Summary: An AU: In another Middle Earth, Aragorn and Arwen are married pre-Fellowship, and have a first-born daughter. She is rather independent and wants her freedom, then she falls in love with a certain someone (who it is should not be hard to guess). After a long and dark series of missteps and--whoops! I'll not give anything away. I'll just say that Cristiel Estelwen knows little about what the outside world truly has to offer.
Main Characters: Cristiel (the OFC), Boromir, Aragorn, Galadriel, Legolas, Eomer, Eowyn, Gandalf, Elrond, Faramir, Denethor, etc, etc, etc, and so forth...
Disclaimer: I do not own the Lord of the Rings, nor its people, places, events, and things, etc. It all belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien . . . for now =) Only Cristiel, Tawariel, Bregdor, and Aelodr belong to me.
Book 1: The Fellowship of the Ring
Chapter I: Naivety and Inquiry
Year 3018 of the Third Age
The valley was alight in all its morning glory. Waterfalls glittered like streams of falling jewels and the sky shone clear radiant blue, a testament to the purity that surrounded Rivendell and set it apart from the outside world. Down below, from a tree-covered hillside near the river, came the sounds of vibrant female voices. A small group of sparrows fluttered away as two girls made their way carelessly down the steep incline, one tall and slender, the other petite and small of frame. Both were laughing and joking as they moved from tree trunk to tree trunk down the hill.
"I must say, Tawariel, you should not worry so about how much dirt gets under your fingernails," cried the petite girl as she leapt down the hill and caught herself on another wide trunk. "It will be washed out in time."
Tawariel brushed red hair from her face and gingerly stepped onto a flat place from behind her tree trunk. "Yes, in time, and that could be three weeks! With the ball coming up, I'd rather not dance with dirty fingernails."
"Seriously, is it really that important?" the petite girl said. "After all, who goes around and studies the accumulation of dirt in people's fingernails?"
Tawariel gave her friend a sideways glair. "Perhaps someone who is very particular, Cristiel."
"Ah hah! It must be Lindir who you have set your pretty blue eyes upon." Cristiel grinned, feeling victorious at having finally found out her best friend's secret infatuation.
Tawariel sighed. "Yes, it is Lindir. But do not speak of it so loudly. It would be embarrassing for anyone to find us in our current state."
"What? You mean you do not like the patches of dirt on my face?" asked Cristiel sarcastically. Then raising her voice, she cried out into the valley, "I would love to see you two together! What a happy couple you would make!"
Tawariel glared at her, but said nothing, then turned away, sputtering to herself. She turned again after she was through and put her hands on her hips. "What was it we came down here for in the first place?"
"Oh, I was going to show you a lovely spot for picnics by the river, but if you cannot stomach the dirt any longer, then we can just turn back—"
"No! No, we came all this way. Please show me."
"I am teasing you. Come on. It's just behind this stand of trees."
They pushed their way through thick underbrush and stumbled out into a clearing. It was a lush grassy hillock, situated within the light mist of a waterfall, with crystal clear water surrounding two sides and the river a third. A hidden oasis of natural beauty.
"Dear Valar! I've never seen anything quite like this before. It's beautiful." Tawariel turned to her companion. "How did you manage to find it?"
Cristiel collapsed into the soft grass. "I suppose when you have plenty of spare time to do what you wish, you have two choices. You could settle yourself safely and comfortably in a library and read to your heart's content, or you could go outside and enjoy the world that was created especially for you."
Tawariel smiled. "I do love your sense of adventure. I only wish I shared it."
Cristiel shrugged half-heartedly. "I suppose it runs in my family."
At this comment, they both burst out laughing.
"The last time—I saw your father—" Tawariel said between guffaws. "He looked like he—had deliberately rolled—through the mud."
Cristiel scrunched her nose. "That would be my father. He's off in the Wild as we speak, probably wallowing in the mud again." She made a sore attempt at holding back another series of banters.
A few minutes later the girls found themselves laying on their sides and clutching their stomachs. Every time they glanced at each other they giggled again, and uncontrollably. After several more minute, they were finally able to calm down, and Tawariel spoke. "Do you think they can hear us back in Imladris? We've been awfully loud."
"We shall find out when we return, aye?"
The elf nodded, a huge smile splitting her face. They sat in silence for sometime, simply enjoying each other's company. Then Tawariel had a thought. "How long have you been sword fighting?"
The question surprised Cristiel, and she cocked her head in thought. "About, oh... twelve years? Yes, twelve years I believe. I started when I was eleven years old."
"Dear Valar! You really do have audacious skills, you know."
Cristiel snorted and plucked at the grass. "Not by a long shot. I cannot sing, cannot sew. I cannot shoot. I can barely ride a horse. You think I am audacious for that?"
"For using a sword, yes. Not many women, especially human, can wield a blade quite like you do."
"Well thank you for the compliment, but I am not one to brag."
"Oh, believe me. I've watched you train with Elladan. You are audacious."
"You really love that word. Audacious. It reminds me of 'awe inspiring' and 'clumsy' all at once."
Tawariel laughed. "My vocabulary should thank my love of reading for that one."
They laughed louder.
The time passed without care, and Cristiel found herself waking up from a dream of distant lands, the bright sky above making her squint. The sun was at an early afternoon position, not yet two o' clock. Tawariel was resting by the side of the pool created by the waterfall, dangling her feet in the clear water, and Cristiel came to join her.
"Did you enjoy your nap?" asked the elf.
"Yes, I think. I don't even remember falling asleep. I suppose the perfect weather today might have had something to do with it."
Tawariel smiled. "I'll never understand how you Dunedain can suddenly fall unconscious, and then wake up later, on cue, and feel bright and refreshed. I shall never understand it!"
"And you have no need to. You are elf-kind. I am not. That is our only difference."
Tawariel raised an eyebrow. "I beg to differ."
"Alright, so we do have our differences. But opposites can attract too."
They sat silent for a while, dangling their feet in the crystal clear pool and watching as tiny fish nibbled at their toes.
"Oh, I've just thought of something," said Tawariel.
"What is that?"
"Well, since you know about my—how shall I say it—pining for Lindir, I would love to know if you have your eye on anyone, even an elf."
"I—well—I guess I have never really 'liked' anyone, if you take my meaning. Elves are just too... oh, I can't say it! It might hurt you."
"Please say it. Honesty is a wonderful trait, and I don't care how brutal."
Cristiel sent her friend a timid sideways look. "Elves are just too perfect."
Tawariel raised both of her eyebrows and sat quietly for a moment.
"I warned you."
Tawariel sighed. "Yes, you did. So if we elves are not quite to your liking, then perhaps you will meet a Man one day."
Cristiel laughed. "Yes, I shall one day marry a filthy ranger, not unlike my father, and we shall live together in the Wild, forever hunting wild beasts for our breakfast."
Tawariel made a face at her friend's humor. "There are other Men in this world besides those of the North."
"What makes you think I shall be venturing south anytime soon?"
Cristiel received no response.
The elf was not paying attention to her. Her blue eyes were fixed on the distant cliffs where the path entrance into Rivendell was hidden. "Look," she pointed to a white blur along the distant cliff path. "Lord Glorfindel has returned, and he bears a small person with him." She stood and proceeded to climb back up the hillside.
"Tawariel, I don't have your elvish eyes. Are you bluffing?"
"No! Come with me. I want to see who is with him."
Cristiel reluctantly stood and followed her friend, who seemed very determined to get up the hill and back to Rivendell.
As they crested the top of the hill and stumbled into a garden near the Hall of Fire, Tawariel grabbed Cristiel's hand and pulled her behind, running towards the gates of Rivendell.
"Why are you so slow?" she asked her friend.
"Because I have just climbed an impossibly steep hill which I had originally underestimated," said Cristiel, panting and out of breath. "Why do you have to be so quick?"
Tawariel smirked and soon they came to the courtyard entrance of Rivendell. A large group of elves was standing in the center, surrounding Glorfindel and his great stallion, Asfaloth. They watched as the small person was lowered gently from the horse and carried away into Rivendell. He appeared to be unconscious.
"Oh dear," whispered Tawariel. "Something serious is going on. Look." She nodded at Lord Glorfindel. His face was unusually strained, his eyes were dark, and his long, golden hair tousled and dirty, with several braids coming undone.
"What did he get himself into?" muttered Cristiel. She had never seen the Balrog slayer in such disrepair before.
The elven lord dismounted his horse as the crowd of elves slowly dispersed, and noticed the girls. Leading Asfaloth behind, he came over to them and bowed, and they curtsied back. His face immediately loosened and the corner of his mouth rose as he surveyed their condition. Tawariel blushed when she realized just how messy she probably looked, but Cristiel did not think twice about it and went straight to the question.
"What happened to you, my lord? Who was the small person they carried from your horse?"
"Before I answer that, I would like to know what you two have been up to. You look rather... disheveled."
Tawariel looked at her friend in an irritated manner, and attempted to put her hair in order again. "Forgive us, my lord, but we were—"
"Exploring," finished Cristiel. "What have you been doing?"
The elven lord's face grew taut again. "I was on an errand for Lord Elrond. It was urgent business, and I cannot speak of it in the open." His blue eyes studied their faces intently, but the girls said nothing and simply smiled. Content they were satisfied with his answer, Glorfindel turned and led Asfaloth away. Then as if he remembered something else, he turned again and said from a distance, "Cristiel, try to practice a little restraint the next time you show yourself in public. For a young lady, you are a mess." And he disappeared around the side of a building.
Cristiel bit her lip and managed to contain another wave of laughter, while Tawariel just stared at her, shaking her head in an empathetic way. "My dear friend, when will you ever grow up?"
Cristiel gave her friend an amused look. "When will you ever learn to have a little fun?"
Three days had gone by since Glorfindel had arrived with his mysterious, small passenger. On the third day, Cristiel became utterly impatient and promptly demanded from Elrohir what was going on. Just that morning, she had witnessed the arrival of many elves, dwarves, and Men, all whom she curiously watched from the safety of her balcony. Their arrival seemed to bring a new atmosphere to Rivendell, one that was both new and exciting and at the same time foreboding, but the source of the feeling she could not quite pinpoint yet. However, she had the sense that someone was not telling her something important. The first sign of this came when Tawariel knocked on her door around mid-morning, and instantly collapsed in tears on Cristiel's bed.
"What is wrong? I have never seen you cry so much. Did Lindir reject you?"
"No, no it's nothing like that. Nothing like that at all." Tawariel sniffed, rubbing her nose in a handkerchief. "Cristiel, have you felt it?"
"Felt what? Excited, or uneasy?"
"More than uneasy. Ever since Glorfindel arrived, I have felt a horrible burden on my heart and it will not go away and I do not know where it has come from. Nothing has changed, but I do not understand, and I can take it no longer." The elf buried her face in a pillow to muffle her sobs.
Cristiel sank into the bed beside her friend, unsure what to do. "You know, you are right. Perhaps I've not felt it as much, but it has been in the back of my mind. And with all the guests coming from all over Middle Earth, you would think someone would tell us what is going on, or at least help us understand these dark feelings that have crept into our minds."
Tawariel sat up, wiping her tear streaked cheeks. "That is exactly what must be done. Why don't we go find Elrond and ask him? At least we know he shall give us an honest answer."
Cristiel nodded. "That seems like the sensible thing to do. Thank you Tawariel. Do you mind if we go now?"
The elf stood up from the bed quickly and straightened her clothing. "Not at all!"
Elrond was Cristiel's grandfather, though she did not address him so. It was Elvish custom to call each other by name, regardless of relation and otherwise, so when she knocked on the door of his study she addressed him properly, calling through the ornately carved door.
"My lord Elrond, it is Cristiel. May I and Tawariel have a moment with you?"
The door opened swiftly, Elrond's face appearing next to it, nodding. They entered quietly and sat on a bench on one side of the room, waiting. The Lord was in deep conversation with an old man sitting adjacent to them, his back turned. He was dressed in a rough, faded robe, and his hair was long and gray. Cristiel suddenly recognized him and spit out his name, then clamped a hand over her mouth.
The old man turned slowly, his blue eyes squinting then brightening in recognition. He turned completely around and smiled at the girls.
"Dear Cristiel, you've grown since I last saw you. How long ago has it been... eleven years?"
Cristiel nodded. "I last saw you at Gilraen's funeral, yes. I was twelve."
Gandalf's face brightened even more. "That would make you twenty-three now. My, my, children do grow quickly, don't they Master Elrond?"
Cristiel frowned at the statement and promptly straightened. The wizard had a tendency to forget that the mind of a twenty-three year old was no longer that of a child's.
The half-elven lord raised his eyebrows and gave a curt nod. "Children of Men, yes. What was it you wanted, Cristiel?" He seemed to be in a sour mood this day.
"I, and Tawariel too, just wanted to ask you a question. We've both...ah..." She made a face, at a loss for words and nudged her friend's side.
"Ever since Lord Glorfindel arrived with the small person or child perhaps, we've both felt very uneasy and maybe even something foreboding. I personally have never felt anything like it before in Imladris. We just want to know what it is."
"And all the visitors," said Cristiel. "There must be many from all corners of Arda. My lord, what is going on that you are not telling us about? Is it that important that you must keep your mouth shut?"
Elrond's brow furrowed and he settled himself into his chair. "Yes. It is an extremely important matter that the two of you would do best to stay out of. The feelings you two have are real, but do not pay them any attention. A cloud of deception and evil has reached Imladris and I would hate for either of you to be hurt."
Tawariel sat silently, staring at the elven lord with wide eyes. After a minute of tense silence, she promptly stood. "I have heard enough. Come Cristiel. I do not want nightmares tonight. Let us leave."
"You may go, Tawariel, but I have more questions."
The elf gazed at her friend with mild shock, then curtsied and left the room. Elrond's eyes drifted to his granddaughter and his features hardened. "More questions? What could you possibly want to know of this matter? And, if you learn of it, will you keep your own mouth shut? It seems that is a very hard thing for you to do, so I would not take the matter lightly if I were you."
Cristiel sent a questioning glance to Gandalf, but the wizard returned the same grave look that Elrond did. She nodded slowly. "I want to know."
"Very well," Elrond said. "Do you know of the Rings of power?"
"Yes. There is a rhyme for them. Three Rings for Elven kings under the sky, seven for the Dwarf lords in their halls of stone, Nine for mortal Men doomed to die, and One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne, in the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie."
Elrond nodded and looked to Gandalf, who put aside his pipe. "That is not the entire verse," said the wizard. "There is more, and it is the most important part because it reveals the Dark Lord's plan."
Cristiel leaned forward. "There is more to it? Tell me."
The wizard was silent for a moment, grave as if remembering something, then he spoke. "One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the Darkness, bind them."
Elrond said, "The One Ring was forged by the Dark lord in the fires of Mount Doom near the beginning of the Second Age. After a first war, He deceived the Men of Numenor into believing that He had redeemed himself, thus corrupting the King and eventually taking over command of Numenor itself."
"The servant of Morgoth," whispered Cristiel, remembering her history lessons. Suddenly an icy wind blew into the room through the open windows, snuffing candles and scattering papers, and a slight chill crept up her spine.
"Yes, that was his Master's name. Do not utter it ever again, not in Imladris," said Elrond. "Sauron has returned to Mordor and is already rebuilding his great fortress of Barad-dûr."
"But he was defeated at the end of the Second Age. Isildur cut the Ring from his hand, and he was defeated. How could he possibly—" She stopped. Elrond was rubbing his temple and Gandalf was sitting pensively, watching her with troubled eyes. "No, it cannot be," she whispered. "It was lost in the River Anduin."
"Lost, yes, but not forever," said Gandalf. "The Ring found it's way into the hands of a Hobbit named Bilbo."
"Bilbo Baggins! But he is here! What madness is this?" She stood up and paced to the other side of the room, wrapping her arms tightly across chest. "So the One Ring has been recovered, and Sauron is rising again in the East." She shook her head. "But how do you know that Sauron has not already taken the Ring?"
"Because it is here in Rivendell," said Gandalf. "And that is where it shall stay until it is decided what will be done with it."
Cristiel whirled, her face showing the slightest bit of fear that she failed to hide. "The Ring is here in Rivendell. Who brought it here?"
"Bilbo's cousin, Frodo Baggins. He arrived here with Glorfindel three days ago and at present is still laying unconscious in bed. He was stabbed by a Nazgul on Weathertop, and has barely kept his life," said Gandalf quietly. "I believe he and his companions were led by a certain ranger you may know as Aragorn."
"He is here?" She now stared at Elrond with her mouth agape. "Why do you not tell me these things? Do you know long it has been since I last saw him? Over ten years. I barely know him at all!"
"Aragorn arrived late last night, and fatigue took him quickly," said the half-elven lord. "I doubt he even woke for breakfast this morning."
"I would go to see him, but I have another question. Who are all of these visitors? I've seen many strange elves, and dwarves and men wandering about Imladris. Many of them seem to be dreadfully important persons."
"They are here for a council that is to take place in two days regarding the matters we just spoke of," said Elrond. "Representatives from all places in Middle Earth that still hold to things that remain good have come, and we will be discussing many matters, including that of the Ring."
"It is not an open council then?"
"No, Cristiel. You may not sit in and take part this time."
She nodded, disappointed, and sunk into a cushioned chair. "At least now I know why I have suddenly been feeling this way. It is hard to accept that this Evil still lurks. I almost do not want to."
"One way or another, every person in Middle Earth will have to face this Evil," said Gandalf. "Whether it be simply coming to grips with it or taking up a sword, everyone will be affected. The whole world will change."
"Thank you for telling me the truth now, instead of letting me find out the hard way later."
"Cristiel, I do not think those were Master Elrond's intentions."
"No, that was not what I had intended at all, forgive me. I did not think the time was right, but apparently, the time was right, and here you are now with full knowledge of this Evil. Whatever you do, do not speak openly of it in public places, less rumors should fly and scare many into believing fairy tales of dragons and other nameless things."
"I do need to learn to keep my mouth shut."
Elrond almost smiled. "Yes... I think you've kept us long enough. Why don't you go find Tawariel and assure her that everything will be just fine."
"Of course. Thank you for your time, my lord. And Gandalf, it was a pleasure to see you again."
"Always, dear girl."
She forced a smile to reassure them that she was not too deeply troubled by this news and quietly shut the door behind her. As she walked down the curved hall, she felt that the burden resting on her heart would remain there for quite some time.
Several uneventful days passed and Cristiel began to grow restless. The council was the next day, and she knew she was not allowed to sit in and listen, but her head told her it would be alright if she did a little eavesdropping. Perhaps she would gain a bit of useful information from the meeting, although, she decided, it would probably end up stretching out for several long hours and grow dull due to the number of foreigners that would take part. She said nothing of her idea to Tawariel and retired to her quarters early after dinner.
To her slight dismay, the elf came knocking on her door only a few minutes later. She let her in and they relaxed awhile, speaking of things that were truly of little importance to Cristiel. She listened half-heartedly to Tawariel's chatter about Lindir and the necklace he had given her the day before, and casually walked outside onto her small balcony. It overlooked the entrance to Rivendell, but was hidden among the trees so that some privacy was still afforded. There was only one spot on the far end that a person on the ground might see who was standing on the balcony, but this was a rare occurrence.
Night was falling. The sun was hidden almost exclusively behind the mountains surrounding the valley and a cool fog was settling, chilling the evening air with its humidity. Somewhere in the distance, she heard the sound of galloping hooves pounding steadily into the ground. She strained to see where they were coming from as the sound grew louder with each beat. Suddenly, a single horse and rider came through the gate at the entrance and halted in the courtyard, a blurry silhouette shrouded in gray mist. The rider dismounted slowly and watched as an elf led his horse away to the stables. She watched curiously as he was greeted by Elrond, then was led up some stairs and towards the living quarters.
Cristiel's mind leaped back to Tawariel as the elf placed herself in her line of sight, hands on her hips. "Are you listening to me? Or are you staring at Rivendell's most recent newcomer?"
Cristiel protested by pushing past her to the railing and was startled at once. The newcomer was completely visible now, standing on the staircase and engaging in conversation with Elrond. He was, in fact, a Man, tall and well built, his hair windblown and dark, framing his handsome features well. His rich clothes were stained with signs of rough travel, and an ivory horn trimmed in silver hung at his side.
"Cristiel, what are you doing? I am trying to talk to you!" said Tawariel, somewhat louder than she had intended. To Cristiel's chagrin, the elf's commotion had been heard in the courtyard, and the man glanced up for a source to the noise, his eyes landing on her. They held eye contact for a split second, then Cristiel turned away and ran inside her quarters, Tawariel following.
"Will you please answer me? What in Arda's name—"
"Tawariel, that man was extremely handsome, and I have never seen one more so. I am sorry for ignoring you, but to tell you the truth, I was mesmerized."
"Of course, for a few seconds. Very well. Find out who he is. You should meet him!"
"Don't be so rash! I would never dare approach a man on my own like you say. He would think me a whore!"
"You worry too much, Cristiel. Perhaps he shall notice you."
Cristiel gave her friend a sideways stare, then burst out laughing. She fell onto her bed and flung a pillow at her friend, who shrieked and flew at the girl in return.
Later, while sweeping away the feathers on the floor of her bedchamber, Cristiel made a mental note to collect a few newly stuffed pillows.
2nd Author's Note: Flame or don't. I think it's an improvement, but we shall see, eh? Oh and don't think I haven't fixed her Mary Sue-ish tendancies . . .