Imladris sat quiet and peaceful nestled by the clear waters of the Bruinen. Usually the Elven city of Imladris, or Rivendell, was a haven but dark times were now upon Middle-Earth. The One Ring had resurfaced and was trying to find it's master, the dark lord Sauron. Frodo Baggins, a young hobbit, and his friends from Hobbiton had risked their lives to get the One Ring safely to Rivendell but it was up to a Council of all races to decide the fate of the One Ring and perhaps the fate of all Middle-Earth. From the race of men in the south came Boromir of Gondor. The Dwarves arrived from the depths of their caves led by Gimli son of Gloin. From the Silvan Elves of Mirkwood came Prince Legolas son of King Thranduil. Already present were Elrond, the ruler of Rivendell and the wielder of Vilya, one of the elven rings of power. Frodo Baggins was also present along with the mysterious ranger Strider whose true identity as Isildur's heir was known to very few outside of Rivendell. Last but certainly not least was Gandalf the Grey a powerful wizard who had realized what the One Ring was when many might have overlooked it. As Frodo arrived and was introduced to everyone a hush fell over the group as Elrond stood and opened the Council.
"It is grave tidings that bring us here today," Elrond began. "Before we begin to decide on a course of action I believe it wise to stop for a moment and offer a prayer to Iluvatar for his guidance and aid during this dark time."
Some of the dwarves grumbled at this and Boromir looked for a moment as if he would protest but in the end all stood and joined hands in respectful silence.
Elrond raised his head and closed his eyes. On his hand Vilya began to glow with a soft blue light. With a clear voice he said, "Iluvatar, we ask that in your wisdom you offer your guidance today to lead us to make the right choice. We ask for your aid on this most dangerous mission and that you do not forsake us but instead help us blight out the shadow from this land once and for all."
The power behind this short prayer was immediately felt by all. The wind picked up and swirled about the circle in fierce gusts. Everyone remained locked into their positions, forced by some power to not let go and keep the circle together. As the wind grew more violent a light began forming above the circle and grew in size as the air around it crackled with lightning. By now all those in the circle were mesmerized by the swirling light, even Gandalf had never seen anything such as this. The air suddenly stiffened and with a final flash a figure emerged from the light and fell unmoving to center of the circle, next to the pedestal where the One Ring lay dormant.
Immediately the wind died down and the air calmed. Everyone was now able to release their hands and as they did so they found themselves gasping for air. They all looked to the figure laying on the ground as if it might leap up and attack them but upon closer inspection it was revealed that the figure was of a small girl and all felt relieved for what harm could one so tiny inflict on some of the best warriors in Middle-Earth. Strider was the first to approach the girl gently turning her over on her back to see if she was indeed alive.
Frodo turned a frightened look to Gandalf, "What just happened? Who is she? Do you think she may be after the ring?"
"Have no fear Frodo. Even if this girl were after the ring, which I doubt, she would be helpless against the likes of Strider and Boromir. No to mention Elrond and the Mirkwood elves." Gandalf gave Frodo a reassuring squeeze on his shoulder.
"You of all people should know better Gandalf," Frodo said wisely. "Size is not reflective of ability."
"Right you are Master Hobbit, right you are." Gandalf acceded before joining Elrond and Strider beside the girl.
"She is not dead, merely unconscious." Announced Strider while brushing the girl's golden hair out of her face. She was pretty and no mere girl but a woman full grown though still young. Her skin was as golden as her hair and she lay as if in peaceful repose. Her breathing was steady and she looked to be in good health though she had a long scratch down her arm where it had scraped against the pedestal when she fell.
"She is a human." stated Elrond. What help did Iluvatar expect to come from a female human? When Elrond had made his plea he put all his power behind it hoping that Iluvatar would send his aid but he had not expected this.
"Well don't just leave her there on the ground and gawk," said Gandalf. "Pick her up and get her inside where she can recuperate."
Strider easily picked the girl up, she was as light as a feather, and as she became fully visible to all at the council a collective gasp went up because she hung in Strider's arms as if dead. Most affected by this sight was the elf prince Legolas. Upon seeing the girl fully his heartbeat suddenly quickened and his eyes remained on her slight form as Strider carried her inside. How strange, he thought, I have never seen her before but I feel as if I know her.
Elrond suspended the council until the girl had regained consciousness and though this brought many grumbles no one dared challenge his authority. As the Council dispersed Legolas could not keep his thoughts from the girl who had literally dropped into his life out of nowhere.
* * *
Buffy was lost in a nightmare. Dawn was trapped on a tower and Buffy had to save her. Dawn couldn't die, not like Mom. She fought but she was so weak. Why was she so weak? Someone was speaking to her softly but she could not understand the words though they sounded lovely. She tried to relax but the image, though less vivid after the soft words had invaded her dreams, of Dawn bleeding would not let her rest peacefully and she continued to try and fight. The words came through again but louder this time. Buffy still didn't understand them but they immediately banished all dark thoughts from her mind and she finally sank into a dreamless sleep.
* * *
"If I didn't already know your heart belonged to me I might be jealous of this young girl, as you have hardly left her side all day"
Strider looked up into the blue eyes of Arwen and smiled faintly. "There is something so sad about her. I cannot place it but she frets in her sleep crying out something about Dawn and Glory."
"Her heart is heavy I feel it," Arwen said resting her palm on the girl's forehead. "I brought some broth I thought she should eat something."
Carefully Strider lifted the girl into a sitting position as Arwen tried to get her to swallow some of the warm liquid. She fought a little at first but Strider whispered softly to her and she calmed, even managing to swallow a little of the broth before Strider laid her gently back on the bed.
"Any word on the Council?" Strider asked.
"Father refuses to hold it until she is awake though he will not say why. The others are growing restless as time is growing short and I do not know how much longer they will remain." Arwen turned her worried gaze to Strider.
"Then let us hope she awakens soon."
* * *
Buffy was dreaming again but this was nothing like the terrible images of her nightmares. She was walking in a beautiful forest while blossoms fell about her from the trees above. It was so peaceful. She had never felt so safe and happy. Suddenly she remembered everything. Dawn, Glory, the portal, her jump off the tower. She was dead then. This must be Heaven. She admitted she rather liked it better than harps and clouds. The trees sang to her a beautiful song of nature and the cycle of life while Buffy listened attentively. She never wanted the music to end it was so wonderful, like nothing she had ever heard before. Closing her eyes she spun in a circle among the blossoms to the song of the trees. Faster and faster she spun until she collapsed with dizziness on the ground. Slowly opening her eyes a movement to right of her caught her eye but she was not worried. She was at peace now, her job was done and she was finished. Nothing bad could happen to her here. She watched as a figure approached her from the depths of the forest. As it came closer she could see that it was a man, an unearthly beautiful one. His long pale hair fell about his shoulders and his startling blue eyes gazed at her softly. Buffy slowly stood up, for the first time noticing the simple white gown she wore and her bare feet.
"Are you an angel?" she asked the figure. This Heaven thing was getting better all the time. First singing trees now gorgeous male angels.
"What is an angel?" he answered in a lyrical voice that reminded Buffy of bells on Sunday. "How is it that you are in my dream?"
"Dream? This is no dream. You are in Heaven which means your dead like me." She saw the confusion in his face, "Oh, well maybe you don't know your dead. Sorry to tell you but if you're in Heaven with me then you're dead, buster."
"I do not know of this Heaven but I assure you I am not dead. Elves are immortal."
"Elves? What kind of Heaven is this? Besides you don't look like an elf to me. I thought elves were little and good at making toys. You know Santa's little helpers?"
"You speak in riddles, Lady."
Before Buffy could respond a shadow began to grow at the edge of the trees and did not go unnoticed by either the girl or the elf. It expanded rapidly blocking out all light and separating Buffy and the young elf. She called out in confusion as darkness consumed her. She was afraid, this couldn't be happening. Bad things didn't happen in Heaven. A terrible thought suddenly occurred to her, what if she had ended up in some hell dimension? Her chest was heaving now as she fought to keep control of her thoughts. Out of the blackness a spark of fire ignited and in a flash she was standing before a great lidless eye wreathed in flame.
Buffy's eyes popped open and she sat up off the bed gasping for breath.