Gwaith i Innas Lain: Quenta Ambarmetto
By San Antonio Rose
It started, oddly enough, just a few days after the Devil's Gate hunt with a snippet of dream about a tsunami, a huge green wave crashing down to drown an island. Over several consecutive nights, the dream got longer, more detailed, and eventually Sam Winchester thought he saw a woman trying to climb to the top of a mountain or mesa or something (Minul-Târik, his mind supplied at one point, and Meneltarma at another) to plead with the gods to stop the calamity. But no such event turned up in the news. Internet research on dream interpretation didn't help, and Bobby Singer, his mentor and fellow hunter of supernatural evil, didn't know what it could mean. So Sam talked to their newfound friend Maglor Fëanorion about it.
Once he'd heard all the details, Maglor nodded thoughtfully. "You are not the first to have that dream."
Sam blinked. "I'm not?"
"No, indeed. From what I hear, certain Men of Númenórean blood have had it ever and anon for many Ages. I have no idea whether it is a vision of the past or some sort of genetic memory, but what you saw was the drowning of Númenor at the Breaking of the World, some ten thousand years ago."
"You think we've got Númenórean blood?"
"I know you have. I have known it since first I saw you. The traits are unmistakable to an Elf."
"Huh." Sam pondered that revelation for a moment. "Do... do you think maybe my visions are a result of that, not something created by the spell Azazel put on me the night of the fire?"
Maglor shrugged. "It's possible. If so, Azazel no doubt made use of such gifts as you already have and twisted them to his own ends."
"So I could start having visions again, just... not the kind I had under the spell?"
"Huh. Thanks, Maglor."
So Sam started keeping a journal of the dreams he recognized as significant. Most didn't seem like visions of the future, but he figured it would be better to have a record of them just in case. But the one where his brother Dean was unhurt but utterly spent after a hunt and Sam wasn't fit to drive prompted Sam to buy a bag of dark chocolate peanut M&Ms to stash in the glove compartment. It was getting too hot to leave them there during the day, of course, but he promised himself he'd put them there the next time they had a hunt.
And the hunt came sooner than expected when a vision, not heralded by a migraine, hit while Sam was in the middle of talking to Dean about something else:
A pretty lady—tanned, dark-haired, athletic-looking—standing in her living room with a boy who resembled her... "This isn't funny anymore. I put you to bed three times."
The boy hugged her. "I don't want to go to bed. I want to be with you, Mommy."
He was hungry. She convinced him to eat some mini-pizzas, but they weren't the sort he usually liked... and then she saw his reflection in the glass of the tabletop.
He wasn't human.
Sam took a deep breath and shook his head as he came back to the present. "Yeah. 'M fine. Boy... kinda nice not to have a headache with one of those..."
Dean frowned. "Wait, you just had a vision?"
"Yeah, Maglor thinks it's something I was born with; Azazel just exploited it. That's not the point. The point is, I just saw someone who needs help." He grabbed a pencil and paper and started sketching.
Dean blinked once Sam got the woman's face drawn. "Dude. I know her."
Sam stopped. "You do?"
"Yeah. Bendiest weekend of my life. She's a yoga instructor, Lisa Braeden, lives in Cicero, Indiana."
"Trust me, Sam. That is not a woman I'd forget in a hurry."
Sam put down his pencil. "Let's go, then. I'll look up news reports on the way."
"Whoa, dude, wait. We can't just barge in—I haven't seen Lisa in close to nine years, and that was one weekend. What are we gonna say?"
Sam shrugged. "You could always tell her we have..."
"... business in Indianapolis," Dean said casually as they stood on Lisa's doorstep, "and I couldn't come through town without stopping by and saying hey."
Lisa raised an eyebrow, and Dean really hoped she bought the story, at least a little. The newspaper hadn't revealed anything beyond one freak accident, but Sam's visions had never led them wrong before. And he really didn't know how else to explain their visit.
But she didn't argue about that. Instead, she said, "This is kind of a bad time. I'm on my way to a funeral."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"Yeah, ex of one of my girlfriends had a freak accident, fell on his table saw."
"Yeah, I heard about that."
"It's weird—there've been a lot of fatal accidents in that neighborhood recently."
"Yeah, drownings, falls, that kind of thing. Really bizarre."
Before Dean could ask for more details, though, a boy's voice came from inside the house. "Do I have to go, Mom?"
Lisa turned, and Dean caught sight of the kid... who looked an awful lot like both Lisa and Dean. "Yes, Ben. Katie's your friend, isn't she?"
"She used to be, but she's been acting really weird lately."
"Honey, her dad just died."
"No, I mean before that. She's just... creepy."
Dean glanced across the room and saw the kid's—Ben's—reflection in the TV. It looked normal.
"And all she wants to do anymore is hang out with her mom," Ben continued. "She never comes out to play."
Dean glanced at Sam, who raised an eyebrow. They were both hearing all kinds of alarm bells in the complaint.
Lisa sighed. "Well, you should still come to the funeral with me. Maybe showing her that you're still her friend will help her to start acting normal again."
"Go get your shoes on."
Ben trudged back toward what was presumably his room, defeated.
Lisa turned back to Dean. "Sorry about that."
Dean shrugged. "Hey, no problem. How old is he?"
"He'll be eight tomorrow." At Dean's thoughtful look, she added, "You're not... asking if he's yours, are you?"
"What? No." Dean paused. "Is he?"
But somehow Dean knew she was lying. He didn't quite know what to do with the information, though, so he said, "Well, look, I don't want to hold you up. But we'll be around for a couple of days, so if you need anything or just want to get together..." He handed her a piece of paper with his cell phone number on it.
She glanced at it and nodded before putting it in her purse. "Okay. Thanks."
"Good to see you again, Lisa."
She smiled a little. "You, too, Dean. Nice to meet you, Sam."
Sam smiled back. "Bye."
Once they were in the Impala and on their way toward a motel, Dean sighed. "So."
"Wasn't the same boy, Dean. I mean, he looked the same, but he didn't act like the kid I saw."
"Coulda told me."
Sam sighed. "The resemblance didn't register. I'm sorry. You're sure he's yours?"
"Eight years plus nine months? Dates match."
"So what do you think we're lookin' at? Something's up with the kids; something's killing the grown-ups."
"We should look into these accidents to be sure, but my guess would be a changeling."
Dean nodded his agreement.
It took a couple of days of investigation to gather the information the brothers needed, but Sam's guess turned out to be accurate. Dean tried to get Lisa to leave town with Ben, but he arrived too late; Ben had already been taken and replaced. But the smudge of red dirt on Ben's windowsill told Dean where they needed to go, and just a few minutes later, Sam and Dean were converging on different entrances to a house under construction in the neighborhood where most of the 'accidental' deaths had occurred. Dean found where the exchanged children were being kept and broke them out of their cages, and Ben helped him get the other children to safety. But just as Dean was about to wonder aloud where Sam was, he heard Sam cry out in pain from the front of the house.
Immediately, Dean raced to Sam's aid and found him on the ground, unconscious and bleeding from a gash in his side, and the mother changeling about to plunge a dagger into his heart. Dean torched her quickly, then glanced at the dagger she'd dropped and saw that a chunk was missing from the blade. Swearing quietly, he checked Sam's pulse; it was thready and rapid.
"Dean?" Ben said from a few feet away, his eyes huge. "What... is he okay?"
Dean jumped up and draped his jacket around Ben's shoulders. "My car's out front. There's a first aid kit on the back floorboard. Keys are in the pocket. Go!"
Ben took off like a shot.
Ignoring the sudden ringtone sounding from his pocket, Dean forced himself not to panic as he stripped off his overshirt and knelt beside Sam. The wound was already inflamed, and as he pulled Sam's shirt away from it, Dean couldn't see into it far enough to be able to see where the shard of dagger was. "C'mon, Sammy," he muttered as he rolled up his overshirt. "Stay with me. Just hang on. We'll get you fixed up. Stay with me, dude..."
He pressed the shirt against the wound and let his eyes slip closed... and suddenly he was in a dark, featureless dreamscape, and Sam was standing way off in the distance looking confused.
SAM! he cried, running after his brother.
Sam turned. Dean? What are you doing here?
Hell if I know, dude, but you've got to come back with me.
I'm... I'm lost. What happened?
That mother changeling, she cut your side open with some funky-looking dagger. I think maybe it's cursed or poisoned. Left a piece of it in you.
So I'm dying. Sam suddenly looked even more out of it than before, and the distance between them wasn't growing any smaller.
No, you're not, Dean replied firmly. Not on my watch. You gotta come back.
I'm so tired...
That's part of the curse, Sam! Don't listen to it! Don't give in!
Sam sighed wearily. Let me go, Dean. Go back to Lisa, live some normal, apple-pie life for a while.
Not. Without. You. I can't do this by myself.
Yes, you can. You don't need me.
Dean laughed bitterly. What am I supposed to do, huh? All I've ever done is look after you, dude. I can't let you die, not like this. You're all I've got left. Don't... don't go where I can't follow.
Sam huffed, and Dean couldn't tell if it was amusement or annoyance. I love you, too, Dean. I do, truly. But you have to let me go.
Well, Dean was annoyed and not about to take no for an answer, and he felt some kind of power surge forth from somewhere deep within his soul as he growled, Dammit, Sammy—lasto beth nin! Tolo dan na ngalad!
Sam gave a loud gasp, and Dean opened his eyes to see Sam staring at him wildly. "Dean?"
Dean heaved a sigh of relief. "Hey. Welcome back."
"The hell'd you do, man?"
Ben's rapidly approaching footsteps saved Dean the trouble of covering the fact that he had no clue what he'd done or how he'd done it. Instead, he pulled the shirt away from the wound and saw, to his very great surprise, that the inflammation had gone down and the shard was sitting right at the surface.
Sam frowned. "Dean?"
"Here's the first aid kit, Dean," Ben panted as he ran up to the brothers.
Dean looked up at him. "Thanks, dude. Hand me the tweezers first, would ya?"
Ben did so, and Dean fished out the shard and doused it with holy water. And suddenly both the shard and the blade itself dissolved into smoke, leaving behind only the hilt.
Ben's eyes threatened to pop out of his head. "Was... was that a Morgul blade? Like the Witch-king stabbed Frodo with?"
That was in fact Dean's first guess, but since he couldn't be certain, he replied, "I dunno, buddy. Run back out to the car for me—there's a wooden box in the trunk with funky carvings on it. I need you to bring me that and a pair of gloves."
"Okay." Ben set the first aid kit beside Dean and ran off again.
"Curse box?" Sam asked.
"Yeah." Dean wiped his hands quickly and snapped a picture of the hilt with his phone. "I'll send that to Maglor, see if he knows what it is." He gave Sam a couple of Tylenol to dry-swallow while Dean pulled out his hip flask and poured a generous amount of whisky on both the cut and the suture needle.
Sam hissed at the sting of the alcohol but still found voice enough to say, "Dean..."
"Dude, just shut up and let me get this stitched."
Sam watched silently as Dean threaded the needle and cut the suture, then murmured, "'The hands of the king are the hands of a healer'..."
Dean pretended not to hear him. "Need somethin' to bite on?"
"Nah. I'm good."
Dean took a deep breath and blew it out again quickly to steady himself, then stitched the wound shut as quickly and neatly as he knew how. He was putting a protective bandage over everything just as Ben returned with the curse box and the gloves.
"Here." Sam sat up gingerly and motioned for the things Ben held. Ben handed them to him, and Sam carefully pulled on the gloves and put the knife hilt in the curse box while Dean packed up the first aid kit.
Dean nodded once when both tasks were done. "Okay. Ben, take this." He handed the first aid kit to the boy, who took it. "Sam, you think you can walk?"
Sam thought for a beat. "Probably need some help."
"Okay. You carry the curse box; I'll carry you."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Dean."
But Dean was already pulling Sam's arm across his shoulders and putting his own arm around Sam's waist in the best position to support without pressing on the injury. "You ready, dude?"
They stood together, and Ben led the way back to the Impala. Sam was steadier on his feet by the time they got to the car, so Dean let him rest against the side of the car while Ben got in and Dean put the first aid kit and the curse box in the trunk and sent the picture to Bobby with a text asking for ID.
"Need help getting around to your door?" Dean asked Sam.
Sam shook his head. "Nah. Just give me another moment."
Dean was just beginning to realize that he felt pretty drained and shaky himself when his phone rang.
"Maglor's about to have kittens over that photo," said Bobby without preamble when Dean answered.
Dean sighed and leaned against the trunk. "Let me talk to him."
"Dean!" Maglor sounded as worried as Bobby had described. "How fare you? Are you well?"
"Dude, I'm fine. What is that thing?"
"It is indeed the hilt of a Morgul knife; I believe it was meant to poison, not to turn the victim into a wraith, but even the hilt is evil enough. Do not handle it unless you must."
"Haven't touched it. Sam used gloves when he put it in the curse box."
"Well done. How came you by it?"
"Got into a fight with the mother changeling, and she got in a good shot at Sam's side before I torched her. Left a piece of the blade in the wound. He was unconscious for a couple of minutes."
Maglor's tone grew even more worried. "We shall come to you immediately. What is Sam's condition now?"
"He's fine, for having his side sliced open. I got the shard out—"
Dean jumped, startled. "Uh..."
"Let me speak to Sam."
Dean glanced over at Ben, who was resting his head against the window on the other side of the car and looked to be dozing, and pushed the speakerphone button. "Okay, you're on speaker."
"Sam, what do you remember from the time you were unconscious?"
Sam blinked. "Not much. Things were grey, kinda fuzzy, and I... got lost, I guess. And then Dean showed up. I don't... I can't remember much of what he said, but I do remember the last thing: 'Lasto beth nin. Tolo dan na ngalad.' And then I woke up."
Maglor inhaled sharply. "Dean. How did you know that command?"
"They said that in the movie, didn't they?" Dean asked with a puzzled frown. "I guess that's where I'd heard it before, but I don't know why I said it. What's it mean, anyway?"
"'Hearken to me. Come back to the light.' I cannot believe... Dean, Sam was beyond the aid of mortal medicine. You just called your brother back from the brink of death."
Dean's frown deepened. "So?"
"That gift is extremely rare. The only Men I have known to be capable of such a feat were direct descendants of Lúthien."
Sam and Dean stared at each other in shock.
"'The hands of the king are the hands of a healer,'" Sam quoted again.
"Is that even possible?" Dean asked. "I mean, Dad was from a family of mechanics, and we don't know anything about Mom's side apart from the fact that she was a Campbell."
Maglor made a thoughtful noise. "I left the old lands long before those houses were established, so I cannot be certain. But if I mistake not, the earliest Campbells were allied by marriage with the House of Bruce, which was one of the ancient royal lines descended from the kings of Arnor. I would not have thought the bloodline could run so true after so many Ages, but... such gifts do not appear by chance. And as Sherlock Holmes was wont to say, 'when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however unlikely, must be the truth.'"
"Guess it's something we oughta look into," Sam shrugged. "Y'know, in case someone wants to use it against us."
"Later, dude," Dean replied. "Right now we've got to get Ben home. Hey, uh, thanks, Maglor."
Maglor murmured something that might have been an amused "Idjits" before hanging up.
Dean sighed and ran a hand over his nose and mouth, trying hard not to let Sam see how badly he was shaking.
It didn't work. "You okay, Dean?"
"Yeah. Yeah, it's just... it's a lot, y'know? Find out I've got a kid, lose the kid, find the kid, almost lose you, find out I've got freaky mind powers and royal blood and we might be related to an Elf..."
"Yeah, and those powers took a lot out of you. But: my power still appears to be foresight, and since I am such an awesome little brother..."
Dean perked up. "Pie?"
Sam chuckled. "Sorry. Peanut M&Ms."
"In the glove compartment."
Dean tried to dash back to the driver's door, he really did, but it turned into more of an exhausted half-jog. At least Sam had the grace not to laugh at him—or maybe it was just that his side hurt too badly. He was moving about like he normally did when he got himself sliced open, which was oddly comforting. In any case, Dean got the M&Ms (and Holy snack food, Batman, they were dark chocolate to boot!) out of the glove compartment before Sam eased himself into the front seat... but Sam had to open the package because Dean's hands were shaking too badly.
Barely had Dean gotten his second handful into his mouth, though, than his phone rang again. Sam answered it for him. It was Lisa, apparently in a panic about seeing Changeling Ben get torched. Sam couldn't get her to calm down, and he was starting to look a little grey in the face, so Dean hurriedly finished the candy that was in his mouth and took over.
"Dean! Why weren't you answering your phone, and why is Sam telling me to calm down? My son just went up in flames!"
"It wasn't Ben, Lisa," Dean said firmly. "Ben's with us. What you saw was a changeling."
That brought her up short. "A what?"
"A changeling. It's a monster. We just killed its mother, and we're bringing Ben back. Just... give us a few minutes, okay? I promise you, Ben is fine, and there's no more danger. I'll explain everything when we get there."
"O... okay. How long do you think you'll be?"
Dean sighed. "Fifteen, maybe twenty."
"Okay. I'll just... um... Dean?"
Dean smiled at that. "See you soon, Lis."
"You sure you'll be able to drive that soon?" Sam asked as Dean hung up.
Dean reached for the M&Ms again. "You sure as hell ain't drivin'."
"This is already helping, okay? Just shut up and get some rest."
Sam watched him eat another handful of M&Ms, making sure that Dean wasn't lying, but he wasn't, so Sam gave in and found a more comfortable position that would let him rest his head on the back of the seat. By the time Dean's shakes had diminished to the point that he felt safe to drive, both Sam and Ben were snoring slightly.
The drive back to Lisa's house was uneventful, and Dean woke both passengers before he pulled into the driveway. Lisa was standing at the front door and looked anxiously at Dean as he got out of the car, then bent down to catch the streak of light that was Ben barreling out of the back seat and into her arms.
Sam got out stiffly just as Lisa looked at Dean once more with eyes brimming with tears of gratitude and relief. "Thank you," she said quietly.
"I'll give you two some time," Sam said to Dean and started around the front of the car.
But Ben pulled back from Lisa slightly. "Mom, Sam's hurt—he got stabbed—I think it was a Morgul blade, 'cause it melted when Dean poured holy water on it."
Lisa looked at Sam then and noticed him favoring his side. "Sam! Come inside, please."
Sam held up a hand. "No, really, you and Dean..."
"Dean and I can talk in the kitchen, and you and Ben can hang out in the living room. I insist."
Sam looked at Dean, and Dean didn't bother to hide the weariness in his eyes this time. Apparently, pulling someone back from the brink of death took a lot more energy than he'd realized, may even have left him hypoglycemic, and the chocolate wasn't going to last long enough for his conversation with Lisa to go any further than talk. And Sam knew Dean's tired face all too well.
Sam sighed. "Okay."
And the four of them trooped inside, Ben making a beeline from the door to the couch to start making it comfortable for Sam.
"Can I get you a beer, Sam?" Lisa asked.
"No, thanks, just... maybe some water."
Ben dashed off to the kitchen.
"Dean?" Lisa prompted.
Dean sighed. What he really wanted was whisky; what he really needed was—"Coffee, if that's okay."
Lisa nodded. "Sure. You still take it black?"
"Yeah... maybe some sugar in it this time."
She studied his face. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Just kind of a tough fight."
She nodded, probably realizing what an understatement it was, and motioned for him to follow her into the kitchen. Ben almost collided with them on his way back with Sam's water.
They didn't talk until she got the coffee made and loaded Dean's cup with sugar and he took a couple of drinks. It was amazing how fast the sugar seemed to help. "Thanks, Lis."
"So. You said you'd explain."
So he did, quietly enough that Ben couldn't overhear from the living room.
"Come on," she said when he'd finished.
"You know how I never mentioned my job? This is my job."
"I so did not want to know that." She looked over at Ben, who was listening to something on headphones while Sam dozed. "Do you think he'll be okay?"
"Yeah. I think he'll be fine." He paused. "He's a Winchester."
Lisa blinked. "No, Dean, I told you. You're off the hook. I had a blood test done when he was a baby."
He took her hand. "Lisa. You don't have to lie to me. Ben's a good kid, and I'm proud to be his dad."
She ducked her head, embarrassed, then met his eyes again. "Look, if, um... if you want to stick around for a while... you're welcome to stay."
Dean looked back at Ben, considering. It wasn't like he had to hunt, now that Azazel was dead, at least not until Bobby and Maglor and Ash worked out what was going on with the whole Return of Morgoth thing. He and Sam were both worn out, not just from this hunt, but from everything that had happened in the past two years. He liked Lisa, even after all this time, and she didn't seem too freaked out about knowing the truth, and Ben... no lie, the kid was great. If the world really was about to end, could he really pass up the one chance he had to be a real dad for even a short time?
"I'll have to check with Sam," Dean finally said, "and I can't make any promises, but... maybe for a while."
Gwaith i Innas Lain: Team Free Will
Quenta Ambarmetto: The History of the End of the World
the Breaking of the World – to punish the Númenóreans for returning to the pagan worship of darkness and of Morgoth, and to stop the invasion of Valinor by the last king of Númenor, Eru broke the previously flat planet of Arda and turned the main part of it into a globe, removing Aman to a different plane and destroying Númenor in the process
changeling – type of monster that kidnaps children and takes their place, feeding on the mothers' synovial fluid until they die; the mother changeling, in turn, feeds on the real children, and burning the mother changeling kills both it and its offspring
curse box – warded box designed to quarantine and safely store cursed objects
Meneltarma (Adûnaic Minul-Târik) – "Pillar of Heaven," the mountain at the center of Númenor originally devoted to the worship of Eru
Morgul blade – cursed dagger of a type used by the Ringwraiths
Númenor – island to which the Three Houses of the Elf-friends and some of their human allies moved in the early years of the Second Age; destroyed during the Breaking of the World in Second Age 2251
A few lines are taken from "The Kids Are Alright," and of course "Don't go where I can't follow" comes from "The Choices of Master Samwise" in The Two Towers.
Weighting this fusion AU toward the canon of Tolkien-verse obviates the need for the archangel-vessel and demon-blood plotlines, since Manwë can take whatever form he likes and Morgoth is bound to the physical form in which he assaulted Valinor at the end of the Years of the Trees. But of course, eliminating those elements poses a problem for the centrality of the Winchesters to the Apocalypse; there must be some reason why demons and (rogue) angels alike have singled out this family for special attention. However, as I have explored in other stories, Clan Campbell is of noble blood, and Winchester has ties—however spurious in the Primary World—to the Round Table... so it's possible for six thousand years of migration and intermarriage to turn a branch or two of the House of Telcontar and another of the House of Eorl into the Campbells and Winchesters of Lawrence, Kansas. Assuming that other lines of the Half-elven had long ago died out or become so diffuse as to be indistinguishable from most other humans, and also assuming that "by some strange chance" the bloodlines ran nearly true in both Mary and John, the results for Sam and Dean would be... interesting, to say the least.