A/N: Hey guys! :D Guess what? IT'S THE LAST CHAPTER OF BOOK ONE! :O I know, I'm shocked, too. I didn't think it would go by so fast! Just to let you know, I'm working on the second book as you read this, but that one won't be uploaded until July. June 27th-30th I'm away at a Christian music festival called Creation...I went last year, and I loved it! :D I'm taking my best friend with me this year, and I'm super excited! It's like...non-stop concerts...ALL. DAY. SO FRIKING EXCITED OVER HERE. *squee*
Anyway! Yeah, so I won't be able to upload those days. And the day before Creation, my friend is coming over to spend the night...and my cousins are coming over for the day...Monday I'm busy with family...Sunday I have church...yeah. I'm busy. XD So I figured it'd be easier for me just to upload everything I get written for the next book once I get back. I might upload the first chapter of it before I leave, just to give you guys something to chew on while I'm gone. :3 We'll see.
On that very long note, here's the last chapter! Enjoy! :D
A Strange Twist of Fate: Chapter Nineteen
I stood silently as my father paced quickly back and forth in front of his throne. It was the day after Erin had left, and the Elven Element Bands we had worked so hard to get had gone missing with her. I was just as angry as my father, especially since I knew that I could have stopped her from leaving last night.
Some of his closest delegates and advisors watched, waiting for orders from him. "This is an outrage!" Ada seethed. I could not have agreed more. "This is despicable! This is...is...treason! She must be found. Such a crime can not go unpunished."
I nodded. "Erin will be found. She does not have more than half a day's head start. We can prepare a troop and leave today to track her down."
"Do it!" Ada commanded. "Find her, and bring her back here. Along with the stolen objects," he added with a pointed glance at me.
"But...my lord..." one of the elves before us unsurely stepped forward. "We have no knowledge of where she may have gone! Prince Legolas said she told him nothing."
"That does not matter, Arthanon." My father shot a glare at him. "She must be found. I do not care how you do it, but it must get done. Look everywhere. Anywhere. Go to all the four corners of Arda, for Valar's sake! She cannot escape us." After saying this, Ada stopped pacing, straightened, and turned to me. "Legolas. You will lead the patrol group. I want no more than ten good, strong men going with you. You must ride light and swift."
"I would be honored to take up such a position," I said.
"Excellent. Gather your men. I want you out of here no later than tomorrow morning." Ada walked back up to his throne and sat down in it, though he still tapped his foot impatiently. "You are dismissed!" He waved his hand, and everyone left the room, save for me.
I stood next to him. "Ada..."
He growled in frustration. "I was this close, Legolas. This close!" He pinched his fingers together in an example. "We could have driven Dol Guldur away by now! And that blasted woman came in and ruined everything!" He stopped shouting for a moment and placed his head in his hands.
It pained me to see my father in such a state. I placed a hand on his shoulder, my anger towards Erin rising. "She betrayed us, Ada. Both of us. I will see to it that she pays for her actions." With one last comforting pat on the back, I rose and went off to prepare for the long journey ahead.
I rode hard all through the night that I fled the Mirkwood palace, and most of the following day. Only when both my horse and I were thoroughly exhausted did I stop for rest. Even then, I knew I wasn't safe. I had to make do with what I had and find the best shelter I could, praying that I would wake up alive and undiscovered the following morning. When I did, I would eat, drink, take care of Rick Jr., and then we were off again.
That was my process for quite some time. I knew that Thranduil would waste no time in sending out search parties to find me and his precious rings. Legolas would likely be one of them, I guessed. The fear of being found was what kept me going for so long. On the first part of my journey, I discovered an endurance I had never known that I'd had, which was nice. It came in pretty handy when fleeing from the authorities.
I reached Lothlórien a lot faster than I expected to, arriving in my favorite woods in about three weeks, versus the average four it would take on a normal expedition. I had Rick Jr. taken to the stables, while I shoveled myself up to Galadriel and Celeborn's palace to return the Ring of Air. It didn't take me very long. I walked in, said hi, and pulled the ring out of my little bag to give to the elven queen (Celeborn wasn't there at the time, for whatever reason).
Galadriel smiled as I held it out to her, and she took it gladly. "Erin...you have done well. I am proud of you.
"You shouldn't be," I said. "I still massively regret stealing it from you in the first place."
"But you returned it before any damage was done," she said. "Just remember, child. Rings of power are never to be toyed with."
I managed a small smile. "Don't I know it."
She smiled back, then changed the subject. "How long were you planning on staying here?"
"I'm leaving tonight, if I can," I said. "It's only just after lunchtime now. I'll go get cleaned up, replenish my supplies, eat a good meal, and then be out of here by midnight. I've probably got a group of elves searching for me as we speak."
"I do not doubt it," she said solemnly. "Do you have a place of refuge?"
I shrugged. "I've got an idea. I wish I could stay here, but it's too obvious. Legolas knows me. This is one of the first places they'll look."
She smiled at me sadly. "Then I wish you the best of luck, Erin. You know that you will always have a home here with us."
I nodded as I backed out of the throne room. "My deepest thanks. You have no idea how much that means to me."
After that, I left the palace to get back to my old talen. I grabbed a fresh silver dress out of my trunk, found a bathing tent, and ordered for my traveling clothes to be washed and ready for use within a few hours. In the short amount of free time that I had after preparing for the journey ahead, I walked around The Golden Wood, happier now that I knew it was safe and as it should be again. It felt like the Lórien I used to know.
I had just made it back to my talen when someone put a hand on my shoulder. I turned around and almost jumped out of my skin at the sight of Haldir standing there, looking slightly ticked. "Oh my gosh! Dude, you gotta stop doing that. You're gonna scare me to death one of these days."
He cut right to the chase. "Why were you acting the way you were when we last met?"
Crap. "...You remember that?" I asked sheepishly.
"Do not play games with me anymore, Erin. I am tired of you avoiding me every time your come here." He seriously looked mad at me, and I felt bad.
I sighed and took his arm. "Come on. I'll explain as we walk."
He glanced down at my hand on his arm for a moment, then softened and followed after me.
After about half a minute, I started talking. "Haldir, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings last time I talked to you."
I must've hurt his pride, because he immediately straightened and denied it. "You did not wound me, Erin. I was merely curious."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, please. I know I offended you. Anyway...like I said, I never intended to hurt you. I just...I had a lot on my mind."
"Really? Like what?"
"I don't know...stuff."
He looked at me with a 'Seriously? Wtf.' look on his face. "Erin."
"Okay, okay!" I said, raising my hands in defeat. "If you must know, it was mostly about...you."
He was quiet for a second at that. "...Me?"
"Yes," I said softly. "You. I've been...thinking about what you said before. When you said you liked me." I hesitated for awhile, stretching the awkward silence. "...Do you still feel that way?"
"Yes," he responded, not even waiting a second. "not any less than before."
Mentally, I sighed. Physically, I just nodded. "I figured that. Look...I don't know how else to tell you this, so forgive me for being blunt. I...I just don't think I want to be in a relationship with anybody right now. And also...I'm not entirely sure that I'm prepared enough for one. You've got to understand, Haldir. I don't want to just jump into something like this without thinking about it. I don't want this to be something we do just for the heck of it. I want it to be...genuine. I want it to be real." I stopped walking, smiling inwardly at his recognition of the place where he first asked me out. "Do you follow me so far?"
"Yes, Erin. I understand your concerns."
"Good." I took a shaky breath, and then gently took his hands in mine. "That's why I want to promise you something." I looked up into his deep brown eyes, noticing that the tips of his ears were just barely tinging pink. "After tonight, I'm going to be...gone...for a very long time." Though I could see his brown furrow slightly at this, he let me continue. "I don't know when I'll be back, but I expect it to be at least a year from now. When I come back...if you can bring me to this exact spot and say you still truly care for me as you do now...I will rethink my decision and possibly allow us to court each other." I waited for a moment to let that sink in. "Can you do that for me?"
He smiled. "Of course I can."
I gave him a small smile of my own and released his rough warrior hands. "Thank you. I have to go now...okay?"
He spread out his arms, and I gladly took the opportunity to give him his goodbye hug. "Goodbye, Erin."
"Bye, Haldir," I whispered. "Remember the promise."
He released me from his hold and looked at me. "I will never forget it."
I smiled at him one last time, then turned and started off in the direction of the bath tents. Once I reached them, it was growing dark, so I quickly changed into my freshly washed traveling clothes, packed up my things, made my way back to the stables, and by the time I had mounted my horse again it was about two hours before midnight. Dark, but I would still travel, even in the cold air of late November. I had no other choice.
As I came to the borders of the forest later that night, I stopped Rick Jr. for a moment and looked back at my beloved home. "I'll be back. Someday...someday I will come back." With a click of my tongue, Rick Jr. sped back into action and we rode on, quickly leaving the magical forest behind us.
On Christmas Day, when my trusty horse stopped at the peak of a large hill in wooded terrain, a smile broke out on my face. "We finally made it," I breathed. "Rivendell."
The small realm was just as magical as I remember it, even in the beginning of winter. Though is was pretty cold out, that did nothing to take away from the beauty of the elven kingdom. As I made my way down into the hidden valley, I felt much more relaxed and safe than I had being on the run for the past few months. Rick Jr. and I trotted through the gates, welcomed by the guards when I announced that I needed to see Lord Elrond. As always, my horse was passed down to a stable boy to lead him to safety as I entered the Last Homely House.
Not a few minutes after I'd arrived, I was greeted by almost being tackled to the ground by Elrohir and Elladan. They really did remind me of taller versions of Merry and Pippin with dark hair and pointy ears. "Erin!" Elrohir cried.
I laughed as I returned the hug. "Hey guys!"
"You have returned to us!" Elladan rejoiced.
"And not a moment too soon," Elrohir said. "We were beginning to think you had deserted us for the Mirkwood elves!"
We all laughed. "In all honesty," I said with a sheepish grin, "I got into some trouble over there. I actually came here to speak with your dad, but I might not be here long. We'll see."
They looked slightly disappointed. "Oh, Erin! And here I thought I would finally have someone to talk to other than my annoying sister and this twit." Elladan said. "Ow!" he cried as Elrohir elbowed him in the stomach.
"Oh, be quiet. You would be absolutely nothing without me." This led to the two of them bickering in the way that all sibling do, and I just laughed as I left them to go find Elrond. I tried the office first, and was pleased to see him there, hunched over his desk as I pictured him to be.
I stood there awkwardly in the doorway for a moment, and was about to clear my throat to get his attention, when he spoke to me without even turning around. "You may come in, Lady Erin."
I bit my lip and did so, shutting the door behind me. Elrond turned around and got up from his desk, standing in front of me. "Hello, my lord."
"I know what you have done."
I blinked. Dang. Hadn't been expecting that one. "About the ring? How?"
"Galadriel and I have our ways of communicating," he explained. Oh yeah. How did I forget about that? "She has informed me of your predicament with Thranduil and his search parties, and while I cannot say that I support the decisions and choices you made in the past, I will say that your efforts to rectify your mistakes are very commendable."
I bowed briefly. "Thank you. I know that it's pretty much unforgivable, what I've done, but..." I pulled Aearya out of my bag and extended it to him. "The least I could do was get it back for you before anything went terribly wrong." Elrond took it, smiled a bit at me, then turned to go back to his chair. "Wait!" I called. He turned back around, and I also held Lhachya up to him. "I don't know Glorfindel all that well, so...this belongs to him. Will you see that he gets it back?"
"Of course, my dear." He took it also, and examined it in wonder. "So Thranduil really had it all this time..."
"Yeah," I nodded. "Pretty messed up, if you ask me."
Elrond chuckled, then looked at me seriously. "There is another matter I wish to discuss with you, Erin. I have also been informed of the fact that you are not of this world."
I tensed. How the heck did he find-...wait. "Galadriel?"
"Yes," he replied. "I had guessed earlier that something about you was different, so I asked her." He trailed off, and his eyes flicked to the door behind me. "Perhaps Arwen would be willing to show you. It will be easier than for me to explain it."
I turned around and smiled when I saw Arwen at the door, dressed in a rich red velvet gown. "Yes, Ada?"
"Arwen, would you be so kind as to introduce Erin to our newest guest?"
I glanced over my shoulder at him, confused. "Guest?" I asked Arwen.
Her eyes seemed to light up. "Oh, yes! Of course, Ada. Come, Erin! You must meet her..."
I cast Elrond one last 'Wtf' look before following Arwen out the door. She started leading me through the house, talking about this mysterious person.
"I think you and her would get along, Erin. She is a bit...brash...sometimes, but manageable."
I snickered. "You don't like her, do you?"
"No, no!" Arwen said quickly as she led me upstairs.
I rolled my eyes. "Come on. Really?"
She looked at me nervously. "...All right, fine. No, I do not get along with her that well...but in my defense, I believe it is her who started it." We both laughed.
"She sound kind of...like a jerk, the way you describe her. Rude, I mean." I said as we made our way down the guest wing hallway. "What's her name?"
"Most of us call her by her Elvish name, which is Eccaia. It is the closest translation we could get to her real name...quite an odd one, it is. I have never heard it before, but...oh, never mind." She stopped at one of the rooms in the hallway and knocked on the door. "Lady Eccaia? Are you decent?"
Surprisingly, I heard her swear from inside. "Arwen, is that you?"
"Yes," the elven princess said with a sigh. "Could you stop being difficult for one second and come out? I would like to introduce you to someone."
The woman inside groaned, but I heard her get up and walk to the door anyway. As she opened it, she said "Goddammit Arwen, if it's another one of your bitchy friends-" She stopped mid-sentence, and her jaw dropped as she spotted me.
I had a similar expression on my face as I stared at this girl. "Kaia?"*
*Note: It's pronounced "Kye-uh". :3
And with that, Book One of the Changing Destinies Series is OVER! :D Yay for sudden plot twists! Haha, the next book will pick up where this scene leaves off, and then get into the plot of The Fellowship of the Ring. Before I go, I'd like to give shout-outs to all of my awesomesauce reviewers! A big ginormous humongous THANK YOU to :
Berianireth of Lorien
Ninja Star Light
Kaycee-x John Cenaholic
Anime Hottah Lovah
You guys are all amazing! :D :D :D I love reading your reviews, they motivate me so much! ^^ Thanks again! 3 Next book will be started July 2nd at the latest! Stay awesome until then, you guys!