All translations, explanations, advertisements, and thought processes are at the end of the chapter.
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Cerweth the twenty-sixth of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
It was the morning of the fourth day and I was yet again braiding Eba's hair. I absent mindedly took in the scenery as I did this. The forest was lush with life; it possessed a vibrancy that almost sang. And with the help of the faint wind, it did. It was a song of delicate leaves, of streaming sunlight, of birdsong and soft paw steps, of the now, of both past and future, and of simply living.
It was as if I had suddenly heard a melody, one that had long been half forgotten. I let myself be swept along, floating on the music's tides. Morning passed into noon, and noon passed into evening. I stayed there, perched in front of Gandalf, braiding Eba's mane, listening to the song.
We stopped under an old oak that night, its branches reaching wide and high. We had stopped with a slight sliver of day fading, still twilight and not really yet night.
There was plenty of light to climb.
The weathered branches of the sentinel tree were practically calling me. I, of course, answered. After setting my doll down-I really needed to name her-safely at the roots, I scampered up, finding a perch a crook of one of the higher and thicker branches.
Even in dusk, the stars above wheeled, stretching across the sky, flecks of silver on dark velvet. For some reason, the melody was stronger in a way, as though one particular instrument was louder than the rest. The rough bark bothered me no more than the soft breeze as I settled comfortably down, the strange Music drawing me in. I drifted to sleep cradled in the tree, surrounded by an almost familiar warmth.
Almost like my sister's hugs...
Cerweth the twenty-seventh of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
The song had changed, an almost imperceptible shift of the melody as if a single instrument had started playing a half-note lower than all the rest. The difference had no obvious cause as I glanced around us, just the forest, sky, and the road. We had been traveling since morning and the song was still present.
As the sun made its way to the western horizon through the day, the clopping of Eba's hoof beats seemed less like the comforting, constant sound it was yesterday and more like a sharp insertion that didn't blend into the song well at all. I eventually dismissed both the change and the discordance as oddities; there but not terribly important.
Not that having background music to one's life wasn't odd in and of itself.
There were hoof beats on the road ahead. It wasn't like thunder that such things were usually described as, just a clear rhythmic clopping. It was late afternoon, the sun far shifted to the west, still shinning.
Should I tell Gandalf?
What if they were bad, like robbers?
I sincerely doubted they would have any qualms what-so-ever concerning the young and old... Gathering myself I spoke, "Gandalf?" He peered down at me as I twisted to face him, his expression one of idle curiosity.
"There are riders ahead of us... I think more than one." An odd look crossed his face for a moment before he responded.
"Riders? How do you know, Solreen?" His voice also had a strange quality to it, as if he had happened upon something utterly impossible. His oh-so-familiar blue eyes were fixed on me now.
"I can hear them… Can't you?" I asked somewhat hesitantly-could he not hear? They were getting closer by the moment, and thus, louder.
Gandalf eyes widened. He didn't speak for several moments. Then he stated in a quiet tone, "No, I cannot."
When they had stopped the previous night, Gandalf hadn't expected Solreen to sleep immediately; thus, he was unsurprised when she sat for a small while before climbing the closest tree. What had surprised him was when he had awoken to nothing more than the fire, the packs, and the mare.
The child was nowhere in sight.
After a moment he recalled that she hadn't come down before he had fallen asleep. No longer worried, he had lied back down and slept until morning.
Solreen had started acting oddly today. She had calmly braided as they rode, as usual, but her gaze was distant and her posture relaxed. Before today, she would at least turn her head every so often, drinking in their surroundings. Now, for the first time since they had met, she had slept in a tree, and was hearing things that there was no sign of. What was going on?
It was then that he heard the hoof beats.
Elladan had not expected such luck. They had been sent by their father to find Mithrandir and ask for his aid in finding the other elfling. Sehnae had spoken of his twin sister, not much but there was enough to be sent on such a cause. Not that they wouldn't have tried looking for her anyway, but the chances at that point were so slim… He just hoped that the elfling was safe, until she was found.
Now, they had just found the man less than two weeks ride from Imladris. He rode a grey steed, plodding along the road. But something was off, even from this distance they could see that he was seated oddly. Their first thought was that he was injured, as unlikely as that was. They sped up slightly, whatever the cause it was likely important. Once they got closer, the cause of the wanderer's odd seat became obvious.
There was a child.
Cradled in front of the man, a young girl was staring at them with something near distrust. Her dark hair was pulled back tightly and her eyes watched him as if tracing his every movement. Unusually focused for what looked like a child of nearly five. Elladan glanced at his brother; his face showed no surprise, but it was evident in the tenseness of his shoulders.
Mithrandir spoke first.
"Hail Elladan, Elrohir. What brings you?" A faint smile appeared on Elrohir's lips, whether it was from their luck or some other reason, Elladan could only guess.
"To be truthful we have been sent to ask your aid in a matter. We were expecting to have to attempt to trace your wanderings. This meeting is truly fortunate." The man's bushy eyebrows raised in surprise at Elrohir's answer to his question.
Elladan continued, "Where are you traveling now, Mithrandir? If it is to Imladris, please let us accompany you." The Istari nodded briefly, before lowering his gaze to the child perched before him.
"That would be well."
My first thought when I could get a decent look at the pair was surprisingly un-jumbled. The impression was only magnified when they spoke. The only description besides tall, dark, and handsome was simply an aspect of other.
They were not human.
That much was infinitely clear. In fact, due to my fondness for European folklore, the first words that my mind spat out were rather odd by many standards (read: non-nerd and/or history nut standards, with few exceptions).
Dear Bright Lady, they were Fae. Schooling my face as much as I could, I peered at the front-most one. Like the other he had long, dark hair pulled back from his face with braids and the rest loose behind him. The pair was obviously twins; that was plain to see. They also carried weapons; I could spot a sword on each as they hardly tried to hide them. I had an inkling that they were carrying others as well.
Gandalf spoke in greeting to the pair, using what I assumed were their names. Well, at least they most likely wouldn't try to rob us blind. That was a relief, as I was less than completely sure that Gandalf could take the duo on in a fight.
...Especially with me to protect, after all what better hostage than a small child?
And no matter how strange he was, Gandalf was still human, the likelihood of him holding off Fae was quite slim...
Either way, I turned my wandering attention back to the conversation. They were now offering to accompany us to... Imladris? Was that Gandalf's intended destination? Gandalf looked down at me before the pair turned their horses to flank Eba on either side.
Elrohir was unsure as to what, but there was something different about the child riding with Mithrandir. The girl had watched them with the eyes of a hawk; Elladan mostly, but Elrohir had caught her gaze following him as well. She had been tense until Mithrandir had spoken in greeting and her eyes almost seemed to be sizing them up.
As if wondering if they were going to attack, and if they might be beaten...
Deep in thought as he was, Elrohir managed to reply when the man spoke in greeting; however, he left Elladan to continue the conversation. His thoughts were focused on the tiny girl with the too wary eyes.
He was surprised and slightly angry that the world was in such a state to make a child be so aware of violence. However, he drew some comfort in how the little one leaned into Mithrandir, a sign of trust he had observed from more reserved children. There still remained an oddness about her though, separate from his other observations. After he and Elladan pivoted their horses to walk aside Mithrandir's mare, Elrohir spoke again, "Who would this little one be?"
He leaned slightly in his seat to peer curiously at the child, a smile tugging at his mouth when he spied a doll tucked in the crook of a small arm. The girl looked at him for a moment but did not respond. Confused, he began to open his mouth to try and coax her out when Mithrandir spoke, suggesting that he speak to the child in his native tongue. Utterly surprised at the suggestion he complied, and was for some odd reason not surprised when the girl-child replied.
Of course, it was Mithrandir.
The Fae on our left leaned in towards me, speaking in a curious and-dare I say it?-playful tone.
…But I couldn't understand him.
He waited expectantly for a long moment, before Gandalf turned away from the other Fae and clarified, "Elrohir, perhaps try Sindarin?" The male's eyes widened minutely, but he complied with the suggestion.
"Who would this little one be?" Little one? I may be slightly small, but still, only people I liked could call me little. I decided to ignore the irritating word spoken by an unknown-if pretty-stranger and held up my doll, pausing before introducing her.
"This is Laer." He nodded remaining silent as if waiting for me to continue. Did he actually think I would include myself in his statement about size? Well, I wouldn't. I was quiet for a moment before continuing, "I am Solreen, but unlike Laer, I am not little."
The Fae smiled before he replied with a hint of humor in his voice, "I am Elrohir. My brother there is known as Elladan." He tilted his head towards the other Fae at the last bit.
The other Fae-Elladan, my mind supplied-spoke to Gandalf in a wholly unfamiliar tongue then, but I could sense a bit of a questioning tone in his voice. The Fae that had been talking to me before join in after his brother finished. When Gandalf replied, an undecipherable conversation began right above my head.
I mentally cursed myself for not knowing the language.
When Mithrandir had suggested that Elrohir speak to the child in Sindarin, Elladan had a fleeting thought, one that he dismissed as soon as it came. It persisted when the child replied, introducing her doll with a Sindarin name and yet again, when she revealed her name, also Sindarin. Waiting for Elrohir to finish what he was saying, Elladan then turned back to Mithrandir. He wanted to question the oddity of a child of man speaking the tongue of the Sindar so very well.
But the inquisition would be one a bit more private.
"Mithrandir, just where did you encounter this one?" The Istari's eyes nearly twinkled as Elladan questioned him in the common tongue.
"Would you believe me if I told you, that she was sleeping in a tree near the Barrow Downs?" Surprise shot through Elladan at the words. What on Arda was a child doing there?
"She was alone?" Mithrandir merely nodded at Elladan's question, his face clouded.
"Might I ask where you two are traveling to?" Elrohir cut in.
"The very place you have in all likelihood just left, Imladris." In unison the brothers blinked, surprised at the Istari's answer.
"Why?" Inquired Elladan, and instead of replying immediately, Mithrandir merely tilted his head down slightly toward the child seated in front of him.
"I am almost entirely certain that she is of Dúnedain stock and as we found none near Bree, I was planning on asking Lord Elrond if she might reside there until one of her folk passes through."
"I see." Elladan heard his brother reply softly. The previous thought flitted through his mind once again, this time finding roots to latch on to.
Could she be?
Glancing at his twin, Elladan caught the look of understanding and dawning comprehension. Elrohir spoke first, voicing the answer they both came to, "She might."
Elrohir turned to the child. "Solreen," He said as he reached out toward her head, his hand pausing at her half hidden ear, "may I?" Wide eyes greeted Elrohir's gesture, before they turned to Mithrandir who nodded to the girl. She turned back to him; her gaze confused and yet underneath there was a sort of wariness. He continued his motion and pulled her black hair back from the ear.
It was no human ear.
With the distinct shape of an elven ear, almost leaf like in the curve and point. It was infinitely clear that she was nothing but elven. Shock swept through Elrohir as he held the elfling's hair back. He was frozen.
Oh, yes, he and Elladan had been searching for this child but that was no real preparation for finding her here. Here, less than two weeks away from Imladris, traveling with Mithrandir to Imladris. Yes, they had suspected from the moment she spoke Sindarin but neither was that any real preparation.
Gathering his scattered wits Elrohir finally spoke as he pulled away after several moments of silence. He let her hair that had been loosened when he pulled it back fall, covering the revealing feature. "Elladan, we have no need to continue looking, at least not for now," seeing his brother's mouth gape just slightly, Elrohir turned to Mithrandir. It was obvious he had seen just exactly how wrong his theory of the child being one of Man was. His blue eyes were wide and Elrohir noticed that they were also just slightly unfocused, as if the Istari had been hit on the head with a bag of stones.
"We will discuss this further after we locate a place to set up camp for the night," his tone brooking absolutely no argument.
Silence reigned for quite a while as Elrohir pondered their discovery. It struck him as immensely unlikely that this would normally happen.
They could have passed each other at any point along the way.
Mithrandir might have headed in an entirely different direction.
They might have done the same had another rumor reached them as far as Mithrandir's general location.
The odds had been stacked rather unfavorably.
Yet, here they were, escorting the second elfling in their memory-besides their younger sister and a wood-elf- to Imladris. He glanced at the tiny girl riding next to him with Mithrandir. Black hair, loose from the twist behind her head, covered part of her face, but blue eyes that seemed slightly familiar peered out at the world. He was reminded of a wary bird peering out, concealed amongst the foliage of a tree.
He would do everything in his power to make sure that this little bird would have no need to fear.
When Elrond's twin sons rode up moments after Solreen had said there were hoof beats-while he had not heard any at that time-Gandalf was thoroughly flabbergasted. How had the child heard them from so far? After calling out a greeting to the pair, he was even more surprised to find that they had intended on searching for him, presumably to ask either advice or aid.
Their curiosity in Solreen was expected, especially considering her name and the language she spoke, but the dawning look in Elrohir's eyes, matched by his brother's wide eyed gaze were odd. The next moments were as confusing as being trapped in a Dwarvish mine without light, map, or company. Elrohir had pulled Solreen's hair back from her ear-an action Gandalf had never even considered-to reveal a distinctive ear shape, one that no Dúnedain could possess.
Solreen was one of the Firstborn.
When Gandalf told me that I would be going with Elladan and Elrohir in the morning, I froze. The urges to protest, latch on to his robes, and refuse welled up. I didn't want to go. Would I see him again? Sure, he said that he would be following-just slower- but it was still a Goodbye.
Grey hair traced with echoes of red.
Goodbyes could be permanent.
Eyes closed as if sleeping.
I often wonder if those that had been knew that.
A single moment's difference.
Shoving the creeping thoughts into the depth of my mind, I maintained an impassive face as the three around me waited for a response. I would not let myself show just how shaken I was. No one needed to know, Gandalf would feel guilty for what they all-obviously-saw as necessary. I just flat out didn't know-and therefore trust-the other two. No, I was fine. I was in no way shaken or a clingy little brat. There was nothing to know, nothing at all.
I was Fine.
"I understand. Goodnight." I stood as I spoke, heading to the nearest tree, I climbed as high as the branches would support me. Finding a welcoming branch, I curled around Aew and nestled into the trunk. Perched far away from all but the tree and the stars, I tried to sleep. The one thought I allowed myself was to wish for my formerly poor eyesight. Back at home whenever I was troubled at night, I would climb a tree in the backyard. Wrapped in a blanket and with my glasses taken off the world would become softer with the blurred darkness.
Instead, I was stuck with the sharp lines of clear sight.
I dreamed for the first time since I had encountered Gandalf.
I stood on a rickety wooden dock jutting out into lapping lake water. It was morning; the sun bathed everything in warm, amber light. The air was crisp and chill, with the night not far gone. I stood at the very end of the dock, to the right slightly, as I looked out in the water. Peace pervaded the place, creating a surreal quality and a sense of being a mere observer. As I turned to view the rest of my surroundings I saw that I was not alone on the dock.
An elderly man with graying hair and a sharp jaw line held the hand of a little girl with black hair pulled into a simple ponytail. They were to my left and a bit back. I stood there, just looking at them for long moments. There was something oh, so familiar about the pair as they looked out on the lake, or as my Grandpa would have said, the Tub-tub.
A flash of pale blue.
The pair never once acknowledged or even seemed to notice my presence. Instead, they did as I had done before I realized their company; they merely stared out into the dark, mirroring, waters. The warm sunlight cast them in an almost other worldly light: beams of amber warmed skin, highlighted dark hair, and turned the two pairs of blue eyes into a deep color, vibrant and alive.
After what seemed both an eternity and a mere moment the man turned and tugged slightly on the girl's small hand, dwarfed by his. When he spoke his voice as affectionate and gentle, "Breakfast should be almost started by now. Let's go help your Grandma. We can come back to the Tub-tub after we eat." The child giggled and trotted after the man, as a smile lit up her face.
"Do you think that Mr. Blue Jay will want some waffles?" I could hear the man chuckle as the pair walked away.
"Let's leave those for your Grandma; a Birdie might like some syrup though, Laurie."
Cerweth the twenty-eighth of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
Morning dawned with a chill and the songs of birds. I ended up awake due to Gandalf calling me from below the branches. My mind blanked for a time, before I scrambled down. Remembering the previous day, I tried to locate the unfamiliar duo. Elladan was scattering the fire's ashes, while Elrohir was doing something with the darker horse's bags.
We were leaving.
And that meant saying Goodbye.
I looked up at Gandalf, trying to memorize him.
Rough grey robes and cloak, all were different shades.
Coarse beard and hair only slightly smoother.
Old, blue eyes.
He set a hand on my shoulder and it took every ounce of stubbornness of my farmer roots not to turn and cling.
It wouldn't change a thing for the better.
Elrohir turned from his horse, striding over before crouching down at eye level. "Well, Little Bird, it is time to take leave, would you wish to ride with me?" I nodded, he had taken the effort to ask and if I was unable to choose Gandalf, at least I could choose. He then swept me up to rest like a toddler on his hip. As I looked back I saw Gandalf with a hand raised in parting, his face bore an unreadable expression.
We stopped for the night after traveling far, far faster than was even remotely possible for Eba. The horses were nibbling on greens a small distance from the fire as I settled down to sleep. Elrohir and Elladan stayed up near the flames conversing in incomprehensible low tones. I tried to sleep, I really did, but I was just too unsettled to do so. I knew that if I looked as if I was awake, one of them would try to get me back to sleep, so I merely waited.
They talked for a good few hours. When one finally shifted and scooted back a bit before bunking down, the other made no motion. He just sat by the fire, stiller than the sleeping horses. I waited even longer to move; when I did it was slow and cautious, not wanting to be followed.
Cry fests were supposed to be private after all.
Padding a distance away from the light and warmth of the fire, and thus from the two Fae, I searched for a tree that would understand. The air was alive with energy as it is in the warmer months. The thing was, I wanted to be alone, not surrounded. Finally, I came upon a rather quiet aspen, it was smaller, but it reminded me of the towering aspen that had divided the fields behind the school near my aunt and uncle's house when I had lived with them. That solitary tree had been a refuge of forest and the plains of Iowa in the middle of a massive city. The one before me was a refuge of mellow clearness in a forest brimming with wild force.
Its branches were high, many times my reach. Instead I settled against the rough trunk clutching Aew, who silently watched me as I slowly let go. I was finally allowing myself to open the dam of emotion for the first time since I had come to this place.
The first time since we fell in the river.
...Since I had lost Honor.
That thought, if any was the most painful. Honor was the only person to stay. Everyone else had left in one way or another, but now, so had she.
And it was my fault.
She was gone, because I wasn't fast enough, because she had tried to save me.
Because of me.
I hated myself. My vision blurred and I realized that I had no right to cry. I tried to shut down again, to lock everything else away. If I didn't, I would cry. I had to, because I had no right to cry. I couldn't cry.
Because it was my fault.
But I couldn't block the rest. The flood gates had been opened, the lake behind would empty. Selfish, old thoughts poured out.
I want to go home.
Where was home?
Was it with my Parents? With the ones who had vanished in a moment buried by time?
Was it with my Aunt and Uncle? Who had never had children and hadn't planned on any?
Was it with Honor's Grandparents? People who hadn't planned on raising two more girls but had welcomed us? Maybe loved us?
I didn't know.
I cried. My mind drew up every haunting thought, every memory. It was dredging the depths and pouring them out in a torrent. Names, moments, faces, scents, everything.
Black hair, coarse with curls brushed back from his face. Grey blue eyes, there were laugh lines at the corners. His wide jaw was shadowed with scruff, he hadn't shaved that day. He was laughing, a deep full laugh.
Mom had turned his words back at him yet again.
Her clear voice had tied him in a knot of his own logic. Her dark brown eyes glanced back at me from the mirror, hair matching the color of her eyes framing her face.
The world twisted in blur of color and harsh sound.
A soft cloud drifted across a gap of pale blue.
I shook with ragged breaths, only half aware of the world surrounding me. That day, that memory always echoed. The front of the old van had been crushed. My hands were white knuckled around Laer as I grasped for a lifeline. There was nothing left of them that I had, no memento to clutch. None of them, not one of them was here with me.
I'd lost them the moment I hit the water, everything but the necklace that matched Honor's and the copper chain from Zach.
And without them, I wondered, would my memory of what they stood for, of the people associated with them...
Would those memories disappear too?
Mom and Dad.
Grandpa and Grandma.
My cousins: Ben, Luke, and Natasha.
What would happen when I'd forgotten their faces, their voices, them?
Who, what, would I be then?
I would force myself to remember them. I could not, would not forget. I would not let myself.
Even if the remembering hurt.
Elrohir had offered to take first watch after he and Elladan had thoroughly discussed the child lying behind them. They had both come to the conclusion that despite his years and experience, Mithrandir had blundered rather largely. Also, they had both resolved to make sure that they didn't accidentally terrify this child. After all, as Elladan had said, they should be well aware of their own blunders. But now as Elrohir sat in front of the fire pondering the recent events, he heard movement from behind him. It was too far to the right to be Elladan, which only left Solreen.
He remained still, after all, she was likely just relieving herself. Arwen had done the same on many little 'camping trips' he and Elladan had taken her on in her younger years. He would merely wait for the little one to return. But, it had been far too long to such things, before he rose and set to follow the direction he had heard her footsteps go. As he walked he began to hear odd sounds from the forest ahead.
Quiet, sporadic sounds.
He continued until amid the various trees he spotted a medium sized aspen, curled up at the roots was Solreen.
She was crying.
The sounds he had heard were, in fact, quiet, muffled sobs. The girl was sitting there, crying as if she had lost everything.
Perhaps she had.
The thought was an unnerving one to say the least. No child should sound so entirely lost. No child should so utterly reject comfort from any around them when in pain. Solreen, he somehow knew, had left the camp for this solitary reason. No elfling should feel as if any of their kind wouldn't at the very least provide a shoulder to cry on.
But, from the scene before him, it was obvious that Solreen did. Elrohir approached her and gathered the child into his lap and arms. He held her, slowly petting her hair until her sobs had reduced into sniffles. "What troubles you, little one?" He inquired softly, and instead of replying, Solreen merely gripped tighter, shaking her head.
"Do you sorely miss someone?" He would not be surprised if the child had, so separated from kith and kin. At his words she seemed to shrink in on herself as she pressed into him. She replied so softly that had Elladan not possessed the keenness of elven hearing it would have been an unintelligible mumble, not the murmur he caught.
"Yes." He gazed down at the girl curled in his lap, the child was dwarfed by him, a small and frail wisp truly.
"Do you wish to speak of them? It may ease the hurt of their absence." Solreen loosened her grip, uncurling to sit cross-legged.
"Not really." Her voice answered quietly, but with a steady quality that told Elrohir that she had collected herself.
"May I inquire as to why?"
"Dwelling on the irreversible is pointless, despite that we all do it. As far as this sort of thing, I have a little cry once in awhile, and just keep moving on." Elrohir felt a jolt of surprise at Solreen's words. That one so young should have such a view! It was one that would require a great deal of inner strength to follow. It might have been less unusual for a child of many more years to utter such words, but Solreen was merely sixteen.
She should not have been aware of the hurts of the world at this age.
"It may be better than weeping alone, child. At least there is someone to hold on to."
"Maybe." They stayed there for a while longer before Elrohir heard Solreen's breathing become deep and even with sleep. He shifted her in his arms before standing and carrying her quietly back to camp. It occurred to him that those words, may have been repeated, a quote from some figure in her past.
Dwelling on the irreversible is pointless, despite that we all do it...
He was unsure whether to curse or thank that one if it was true.
Cerweth the thirty-first of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
It had been over three days since we had gone ahead of Gandalf. We had ridden just as quickly as we had the first day, covering what was as far as I could tell was miles and miles in that space of time. From the morning of the third day, after my little cry fest, it was plain to see a dark mass of clouds looming on the horizon. Elladan spoke the obvious from beside Elrohir and me, "There will be a rather large storm tonight."
I turned away from Laer to gaze at the clouds ahead. The day passed as we rode in the direction of those shadowy clouds. By the time we stopped for the night, the clouds were nearly above us. The air was thick and heavy with moisture. As I tried to help Elladan light the fire by gathering kindling from the area, a flash of pale blue flew between two trees to my left. The memory of my dream from the last night before the three of us had ridden ahead of Gandalf came to mind.
Had that been a blue jay?
I dismissed my curiosity, as I turned back to the tiny flame Elladan had sparked. It had been decided that we would shelter under the low boughs of a pine for the night. It would be the driest place conceivable for the time. As I helped prepare the campsite for the approaching weather, anticipation swelled up. I had always loved storms. The sheer energy that was present: the force of them whirling around you, pushing at you, tugging, calling. I almost always spent a decent amount of time in them.
Soaking in everything.
There is very little that is as simple, yet as complex and so very freeing, as standing amidst the tempest. Water droplets running down me and my hair plastered to my back as the winds call. It was a connection that ran deep and shallow, something that was in my veins.
Dropping the kindling next to Elladan's fire, I pulled myself from my mind's wanderings to feed the twigs, dead pine needles, and pinecones to the growing flames. Elladan and Elrohir were now tending to their horses on the other side of the pine. I might have gone over to help, but there was something odd. Sure the air was thick with the approaching storm, but there was also another layer. There was an energy that was deeper, older, and far, far wilder.
It seemed to be nearly everywhere, dancing among the branches and across the soft forest floor. It made the world seem brighter, older, and more alive all at once. I let myself drift along with the sweeping vibrancy as I stared into the warm glow of the fire. Its leaping tongues contrasted sharply against the falling darkness; its sparks floated upward fading before they reached the trees' branches.
Elladan and Elrohir came back from tending to the horses before settling down by the little blaze I had fed with kindling. We all ate some bread that they had brought and sat for a bit before Elladan decreed, "It is well past dusk and time for little ones to go to sleep." I looked up, had he really just said that?
Yes, he had.
Still he was right, it was getting late and even just riding was horrible, if one had a headache from lack of sleep. "Yes Elladan," I replied as I stood, drawing away from the warmth to fetch my blanket. Settling down between the fire and the pine's trunk, I drifted off to sleep to the comforting crackle of burning wood.
Urui the first of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
I woke to the pounding of rain, the crack of thunder and the flash of pale light. The expected storm had arrived. I quietly got to my feet, not wanting to wake either Elladan or Elrohir. They might as well sleep, if they were asleep. If one of them was awake, then I just didn't want disturb them. The rain plummeted down to splash on the already saturated ground. Tiny rivers and pools had already formed in the spaces where the roots of trees did not raise the dirt slightly. I stepped from under the canopy into the downpour.
The rain was chilled despite the season as it splattered on me. The wind blew in gusts in every direction. I stood there, feeling as if I was not a mere observer, but a part of the tempest around me. There was a surging of feelings that were inexplicable, powerful, overwhelming, and wild. My world both narrowed and expanded as the branches of trees danced to the song of the winds. Unthinkingly, I began to whirl, leaping and dancing along. My body seemed half my own and half controlled by some unknown force.
There was the usual clumsiness, yes, but it was somehow blended with a wild knowledge of an ever-changing dance. My hair began to fall even looser from the tight bun that I had maintained. Dark strands flying with my movement, obscuring my sight or drifting back. I idly noted that my toes had gone numb and were slightly sore from the ground and the friction. Lightning flashed and the thunder roared; the winds tugged and pushed.
And I danced.
The storm was alive, a melding of forces producing a wild power. There was no drawing on such a thing; to connect was to be adrift, to be gathered into the convergence, to nearly be absorbed. It was to have oneself immersed.
A Song joined the hectic, carefree dance.
A jumble of meaningless syllables stung together, creating an echoing rhythm blending with the song created by the tempest. It was giving a wordless voice to the energy present all around. Even once my limbs felt heavy and I had to take heaving breaths, I still stood there, surrounded by the forces of nature.
I reveled in the forest, in the cooling rain, in the swirling gales, and in the feeling of decaying leaves and pine needles mixed with dirt and water at my feet. The feeling of my clothes plastered to my skin and in the song that had seemed to meld with my very being.
I felt truly alive.
After I had stood for a few moments, I became aware of Elladan watching me from under the conifer where we had been sleeping. I shrugged off any sheepishness at my utterly nonsensical behavior-at least in the eyes of others. I made my way back the shelter of the pine boughs, still half dazed and my heart amongst the swirling winds and rain.
Elladan made no comment until I was back under the warm blanket, drying by the fire, "While you may enjoy the storm, do inform those who care of your whereabouts next time."
As my mind wandered to the relms of sleep, a fleeting wonder at his words sparked. He-they-cared? Despite our extremely short acquaintance?
My thoughts drifted then, floating on the waves of the storm's song into the sea of sleep...
Urui the sixth of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
It had been five days since the storm. The last day had passed among the vibrant green forest floor, blue skies, and a wind that played gently with a person's hair. As evening neared, both Elladan and Elrohir urged the horses to quicken their trot. The fading amber light made the forest nearly luminescent, glowing through the greenery. It warmed the bark of the trees, reflected off the white stones that were seemingly random in their presence.
We were climbing a gentle slope that I could see crested not too far ahead. As we neared the edge, Elladan and Elrohir turned the horses to the right, so that we went alongside the precipice. Curious, I lowered my gaze from the heights of the other side.
The sight below was one that enshrined itself in my memory, to be recalled in the greatest detail, one that was to be treasured.
It was literally breathtaking. Regal buildings, far too elegant to be made by any ordinary hand blended with the flora, the naturalness around them. There were graceful arches, elaborate designs, ancient trees and stone paths, the only parts that were the simplest to explain. There was an air about the place that soothed a person; it seemed to glow in the light of the Lady, a silver-blue aura of peace.
A different sort of Terabithia.
I could not tear my gaze away, it was beautiful, in a strong, diaphanous way that very few things can be. I was more than breathless.
I was speechless.
Eventually, we turned a bend the path lead to an arching bridge, as we crossed it Elladan spoke, "Be welcome to Imaldris, Solreen." We passed across the bridge and came to a stable, within were many fine horses. Another fae-elf-took the horses from both Elladan and Elrohir. We walked amongst the fair buildings before we entered one, a maze of halls where it would be all too simple for one who was unfamiliar to lose their way.
We came to a wooden door, heavy and dark, but lovingly carved and polished. Elladan rapped a knuckle once upon the well tended work of art. Almost immediately an answer came, deep and light, but of simple words-one word really. "Enter."
And so we did.
Inside amongst shelves, some small tables, and stacks of paper was a simple oaken desk, well cared for, but worn with age. It looked an heirloom from centuries ago. Behind the desk was a man-fae, yes-with long, dark hair tat neat if rather loose. He was certainly older than either Elladan or Elrohir, enough their elder to be their father. A thought that he might be just that wove through the branches of thought as I took notice of how closely they resembled one another.
His hair seemed like an echo of something familiar, but different. So very different, straighter than should be, longer, not as coarse.
Not as coarse as what?
Thick, black hair.
Combed out curls.
It had been kept in a little plastic zipbag.
No, even if he reminded me of my own father, I would be wary. It wasn't like I had never misplaced trust because I was reminded of someone dear, better to not immediately trust.
As we entered, I almost thought that I caught a flicker of surprise, he didn't seem to have taken notice of me. Why was he surprised so to see Elladan and Elrohir? I recalled the words spoken to Gandalf upon meeting the pair. Was it because he had not expected Elladan and Elrohir back by now? "Elladan, Elrohir, I had not expected your return for many days. Is there something amiss, my sons?"
So I had hit the mark, on two counts.
Elladan replied, his voice betraying a smile, "Nay, Father. Merely that we meet upon great fortune on the road. Mithrandir approaches even now, and our task we belive finished." The man's eyebrows rose high and his eyes widened slightly, but other than that he remained collected.
"Finished? For good or ill?" His voice seemed at ease, as though he already knew what the reply would be.
It was Elrohir who replied now, "For good. Child, come, this is our Father, Elrond." As he spoke Elrohir turned slightly, laying a gentle hand on my back to urge me forward from the shadow of him.
Elrond's face softened before he spoke, "Little one, what is your name?"
"Could you tell me how my sons came to find you with Mithrandir? Or, Gandalf as you may know him." His tone was level with some curiosity, but his forehead was knit slightly, and the corners of his mouth were dipped. His eyes met mine.
Why did he want to know?
I shook my head, hoping to avoid what might turn into some sort of interrogation. Elrohir and Elladan might be kind and trustworthy for longer than a journey, but their father was less sure. He might seem familiar, and was related to the twins, but... I turned back to Elrohir and buried my self into his tunic. This Elrond was... I couldn't really read him as far as thoughts go, there was a fathomless quality about him.
He scared me.
Not in the large person with a weapon way, no. His eyes had been smooth grey, like a wind weathered bluff, but there had been the strength of the solid rock that made the bluff. Ancient, powerful, covered in the soft soil atop a cliff. Yes, Elrond was terrifying. But, I realized then there was another bluff that I knew, Gandalf. I clutched at the rough tunic even more, now straining to hear the disscusion above my head between the three.
"I may question Mithrandir of circumstances when he arrives. It is late now, and if you are correct then the reunion should be sooner rather than later." I heard Elladan reply to Elrond then.
"Very well, I shall return soon." What reunion was he talking about? Where was Elladan going?
It was then that my heart truly began to hope.
To Be Continued...
Translation: *Cerweth means July.
*Urui means August.
*Laer ~ Summit
*Mithrandir ~ Grey Wanderer
*Istari ~ Wizard
*The Music, obviously you must be wondering what this "song" Solreen is hearing is. What she is hearing is the Song of the Trees, a song that all elves have the potential to hear, but usually it is only the Sindar elves (more commonly known as wood-elves) who hear it. I believe that I had read some where that the Sindar elves (more specifically the ones in Mirkwood, but any wood-elf could suffice) have become more in tuned to the forest and came even hear the trees speak. Legolas demonstrates this in the Fangorn forest when he is describing the (angry) thoughts of the trees.
I have decided that the extent that it affects the elves may vary:
Low Sensitivity, the third level ~ They can tell the tree is alive and feel only the most powerful of emtions. Hobbits, men, dwarves and most elves can sense this.
Average Sensitivity, the second level ~ They can only gain vague emotions and moods off of the trees. This is the highest extent that most elves who are not Sindar on some level can sense.
High Sensitivity, the first level~They could hear music, emotions, and, once in a while, an almost-thought from the trees. Most Sindar on some level can sense this.
A Sensitive ~A rare level of sensitivity. They are so sensitive, that they can't actually hear a song most of the time, but rather, they can hear and feel the vibrations of the life essence from the tree that make the song.
Native ~ An offensive term that ignorant elves use to describe the Sindar. To "go Native," "being Native," or to have "gone Native" mean that an has succumbed or is succumbing to an illness that is unique amongst elves. This illness is purely a result of my more creative thoughts and is not cannon (that I know of). There will be more about this "going Native" later on in the story. And, before you can ask, yes, there have been cannon cases of elves being racist about other elves.
*The term Firstborn is in reference to the fact that the elves were found/made first. Both elves and men are also called the "Children of Ilúvatar," since they were made by Him directly. Elves seemingly bear the closest likeness of Him.
*The words Fae and Fair Folk are just other ways to describe elves and fairies. Mythical creatures that can, if they want to, appear to be human, however they will all hold a unnamable quality that will mark them as anything but human.
TITLE: The Skipper
SUMMARY: Ana has spent her life Skipping between this world and Middle Earth. From running away from clumsy balrogs to adoring majestic Thorin, from making fun of pretty boy elves to being sacrificed to a dragon, from weddings with dwarf bridesmaids to drinking parties with an elvenking and his moose, Ana's life is a mess. Either that or she's just going insane.
OPINION: I was doubtful of the story at first, but then it turned into an amazing story of epic proportions. I am SO glad that I gave it a chance. Thorana all the way! :)
Thought Process: I'm sorry for the long wait. I was sick with a stomach bug and could not get off the couch without intense chills, stomach pain, and nausea. Kiley, my lovely sister/co-author, was unable to publish her chapter here, because I was unable to beta-read it. Painful stuff there, people. Please remember to wash your hands with soap, so that you won't catch what I had, just warning you.
Some of you are probably wondering about the whole storm lasting two days and if we are losing our touch with the dates...
I assure you, we are not.
August the First has a great deal of significance in Laura's [Solreen's] religion. So therefore, we had to make the storm last at least for four hours. We are assuming four hours, because we are guessing that the storm started sometime around ten at night in Imladris on the Thirty-first and took four hours to reach where the twins and Laura was camping at one in morning on August First.
This is our work showing how this is possible.
The distance between Bree and Imladris is 370 miles,respectively and it takes about fifteen days for most people to reach their destination to Imladris on average. Laura and Gandalf rode on Eba, a very old mare, for about five days before they meet the twins, and were traveling an average of about ten miles a day.
5 X 10 = 50 and 370 - 50 = 320.
The twins escort Gandalf and Solreen for one day, traveling at Eba's slow pace of ten miles a day.
320 - 10 = 310.
That leaves 310 miles until Imladris for the twins to travel with Solreen. Now we needed to find there average speed until they arrived on the Sixth.
15 - 6 = 9 and 310 / 9 = 34.5
Now we know that the twins and Solreen traveled at an average 34.5 miles a day, which isn't too far fetched for an elvish horse, who have a higher endurance and swiftness than regular horses. They had traveled for three days before the storm reached them.
34.5 X 3 = 103.5 and 310 - 103.5 = 206.5
Now we know that they are 206.5 miles away from Imladris. So we need to see have fast the storm must travel to reach them from Imladris.
206.5 / 4 = 51.625
Severe thunderstorms have been know to have speeds anywhere between fifty to sixty miles an hour. Since it traveled at 51.625 miles per hour, I would say that we are good.
Now you reader are probably wondering why I put this in the thought process section instead of the explanations section. The reason is quite simple... I am showing the whole thought process put into find the speed of the storm and if it was possible for it to start on the Thirty-first and end the next day on the First.
Math problems aside, did anyone guess Laura's religion yet?
How do you feel about Laura?
Does scary-ness seem to run through Elrond's family?
Only through the males?
Will Honor Rae/Sehnae finally reunite with Laura/Solreen?
Will Honor Rae finally knock some sense into Laura as well as learn exactly what happened to them both?
Will all the elves FINALLY realize that their little Sehnae is actually a GIRL?
JUST WHERE ARE ALL THE OLD PEOPLE BEING HIDDEN IN IMLADRIS?!
Send us your thoughts and guesses. We will respond and answer your through a PM or in the next chapter if you do not have an account.
Also feel free to send us ideas for some antics the elfling twins, Sehnae and Solreen, could get up to, or just random situations you want to happen. Please keep it rated G to PG-13. Remember they are in the bodies of as well as are only children, nothing too inappropriate. If we use your ideas, you will be given your due credit as well as a cameo appearance of your choice.
Happy Easter/April fools!
Date Submitted: Saturday, March 30, 2013.