All translations, explanations, advertisements, and thought processes are at the end of the chapter.
Disclaimer: All shows/ books/ video games/ songs that are mentioned in this chapter are all © to their respective owners, I don't own them.
Cerweth the Third of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
I paused to glance at my map yet again, fruitlessly. The trail I was supposed to have been following had faded hours ago, leaving me guessing. Earlier the warm sunlight of late afternoon was comforting, now the semi-dusk for some reason had a sharpness to it. Near where I guessed and hoped I was, there was the simple word, 'barrows.' Unsure of the meaning, I decided to ignore it and just continue; seeing as my supposed path wouldn't cross it.
A chill ran up my spine and I realized that during my musings the sun had set completely. I searched for a climbable tree nearby finding one (a gnarly old oak) to my immediate left I climbed nearly a quarter way up before finding a decent branch. Once there after a tiring ascent, I secured my pack so it would not fall, leaned against the tree, and let my mind wander...
I was half awake, lost in a blur of memory, imaginings, and dreams. I usually can't recall my dreams; however, one stood out from the blend. I was sitting with tom at the table, the warm glow of fire seeped through everything. Tom was telling a tale, when suddenly memory griped me yet again; pulling me. My attention snapped back, the formerly comforting fire now casted the room in harsh light. Tom grew silent, I turned away from the fire to him. He spoke again; his words slower.
"You are Solreen, trapped by memory, wanderer, shackled to the past you reach for what remains, for what will be."
He did not speak as usual, but yet still in riddles. At his words, I felt something settle; a sense of more. The entire room seemed different yet not, as if I had previously been colorblind and now I was not. The shapes and colors were the same but now everything went deeper; possessing more than before. And as I glanced back to the fire, I saw my shackles of memory.
The red of fall had arrived in the sumac.
The first snow of winter as I twirled.
The roaring river of spring, no more than a foot away as I sat fearless.
The wind and storms of summer.
Twin puffs of breath as we walked home.
My gaze broke when Tom spoke again, but it was not his own voice; it was my uncle's. "Our family does not give up. Especially not on each other." Then the room faded.
Cerweth the Fourth of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
I woke to silence, it was still dark and the moon was only half way across the sky. A cold feeling of unease grew and I glanced down. A flash of metal as something moved below sent chills up my spine. The urge the get as far away as possible griped me as I turned my eyes upward, looking for a way to get even higher. Finding one I climbed as far as I could, in my eyes it was nowhere near far enough. The rest of that night was spent clutching my sack and praying that whatever was below me would not climb, if it did I had no chance. That terrified me. Needless to say I slept no more until dawn.
The things had left a bit before and now I scrambled from the tree and left, I did not stop until afternoon when I was nearly sleeping on my feet. I climbed a nearby oak which was also the tallest, climbable tree in sight, until I was as high as I could safely go. Leaning against the slightly rough bark, I closed my eyes.
I know I dreamed then but all I recalled after was a light and the same sense of more. I woke again to cold silence and darkness and again sleep was not forthcoming. The next morning as I walked I considered my dilemma (really more like massive problem), the thought of switching my days and nights formed. At first I dismissed it, until later I happened to witness the acrobatics of a nearby squirrel. The little creature skittered from branch to branch, tree to tree, and it was then that I knew my course of action.
I climbed into the nearest tree and proceeded to practice moving not vertically but horizontally. I did this until early evening when I perched in the high branches of my current tree. Again I slept until night came, again they were waiting below, and again I remained awake. When morning came I did not climb down but instead traveled tree by tree. This of course came with mishaps seeing as I was wholly unpracticed and unskilled in the art of tree traveling. After most of a day of solely this, I had a bit of surety of my (dubious) ability.
I stopped around evening again to sleep and yet again woke to the things. That night I did not stay perched in a single tree waiting for dawn, I set off among the canopy. Like the earlier squirrel, branch to branch, tree to tree. I always knew there was some reason I liked squirrels. The night passed, and I stopped yet again, tired I leaned against my current tree and slept.
I was in a forest, golden sunlight filtered through the trees and warming my skin. The ground I stood on was soft but firm while around me puddles had formed at lower points. They were clear as glass and moss grew around and in them, tree roots ran all about. As I gazed into the little pools the words of a childhood friend came to mind. "They are doors, to other places. Step in one and you might go through." That had been our game then, avoiding puddles. Now those before me almost glowed with an odd clarity, drawing me in. One word described the place:
Cerweth the Ninth of the Year 2002 during the Third Age
I woke around dusk and started off again. This pattern of sleeping by day and traveling by night continued for nearly five days before anything changed. The last night I stopped shortly before dawn and settled in my current tree before falling asleep.
Gandalf woke to clear morning light. Stretching, he noted the position of the sun; a tad over the treetops. As his gaze returned to his surroundings he glimpsed a shadowed shape among the branches of a nearby tree. Unsure of what it was, his first thought of it being a barrow-wight was dismissed as it was day. Certainly it was no foul creature, for it would have attacked in the night (or tried at least). The notion of it being either dwarf or hobbit was inconceivable; dwarves were not fond of trees and no proper hobbit would even consider resting in a tree, much less in one so far from home.
That left whoever it was as being of the race of men. However the form was far too small to be either man or woman, leaving them as... a child. He called out a greeting. "Hello." There was neither reply nor reaction. Gandalf tried again, this time far louder. And when the figure yelped before jerking and tumbling from their perch, he thought perhaps that he had been a bit too loud.
Concerned, he approached what he could now tell for certain was a child. A girl, looking to be around six or seven years of age, peered at him warily from behind a bit of long, dark hair fallen loose.
"Are you hurt child?" There was no reaction other than a blank stare.
Again he tried to get the girl to respond, only this time when she gave him a confused look he realized she couldn't understand him. He had been speaking in the most common form of Westron for the area, but now he began to try all the other dialects and versions he knew, with absolutely no success. Slightly frustrated, he sighed. Inspecting the child before him he tried to find anything telling about her origin.
Her clothes were of good make, but worn. Other than that and the circumstances, there was something a little odd about the child. She obviously was not a villager of any sort, nor was it likely she was of farmer stock; not out here so far from any settlements. A theory began to form.
He tried speaking to her in the unique, and previously untried, dialect of the Dúnedain. When even this failed to be understood Gandalf swore softly.
Jerking out of a sound sleep I fell from the branch I had been resting on, landing with a sharp stab of pain. I quickly scanned around me fearful of whatever those things had been. There was an old man standing not all that far from me. Some of my hair had come loose and blocked part of my vision, but I could tell well enough that he didn't look to be anyone overly nasty.
He said something in a language I couldn't understand at all, and now my ankle was hurting from my landing. He repeated whatever it was that he had said in the first place. Did... did he think I had not heard him the first time? It seemed to dawn on him that I couldn't understand a word he said.
He tried again, slower and I suspected in another language. The tones were different from before, although the way he spoke it was the same. Unfortunately, I still couldn't understand even the gist of what he was saying. I shifted a bit and sharp pain lanced through my left ankle, to hide it I bit down on my lip. The man continued speaking, pausing often, apparently trying even more languages that I couldn't understand. Eventually he stopped and sighed.
Silence stretched as he peered at me, giving me the feeling of being analyzed. Then he spoke again, and I found myself noting an almost expectant glint in his eyes. As if he was sure of me understanding him, only it turned out I still couldn't.
When he realized this he muttered something under his breath and to my surprise I understood him. And no, I will not repeat it. Suffice to say that it involved both orcs, trolls, and was quite crude. Well, at least he knew Sindarin.
After a moment he realized that I had understood him and stopped, then spoke again. "Are you hurt?"
Hurt? Whatever had given him that idea? Besides the fact that I had fallen from half-way up a tree only minutes ago. Either way, I responded, if a bit flatly, "Yes, my ankle." As I spoke I moved my ankle, so it was easier to see and examine, I suppose.
He immediately approached and knelt to have a look. I was slightly surprised at how easily and quickly he moved, certainly faster than any other with that much grey hair... My reverie was broken as he pressed gently against the joint, which despite his efforts was painful. Grimacing, I tried to stay still, he was helping me despite our very recent meeting after all. After a few moments he looked up from my annoyingly injured limb. "It's sprained, you shouldn't walk on it for awhile."
I really wanted to repeat his earlier curse. How was I supposed to do anything like this?! Freaking aye, I was now officially useless.
The man was speaking again and after my internal panic, I registered what he had said. That he was going to splint it. He rose and walked around the clearing, after a bit he returned with some very straight twigs. He knelt again and pulling some cloth over it. He began wrapping it around both my ankle and the twigs. It was tight, painfully so, but he worked quickly and after he was done wrapping, the sharp pain faded to a dull ache.
I tried to stand but he stopped me, picking me up and carrying me closer to the ashes of his fire. He spoke again, "What is your name child?"
Slightly annoyed at being called a child(no matter how true that might be here) and still in some pain, I responded frankly, "Solreen." I paused before asking, "What is yours?"
He wore an odd look before I had asked his name and then when I did, he responded rather cheerily, "I am Gandalf. May I ask why you were sleeping so high in a tree?"
I shivered slightly despite the warm sun. "I was being followed, and it was better than the ground." I watched his face closely as I spoke, a bit wary. After all, I had really just met him and first impressions aren't always accurate. And how had he avoided those things? It was due to this, that I caught a look of concern that otherwise I would never have seen. Perhaps he really didn't have any ill intentions.
I was pulled from my thoughts when the ma- Gandalf, spoke, "Followed? By who?"
By who? More like by what. I felt chilled. Whatever those things were, they certainly weren't friendly locals searching for travelers to offer food and bed to. If only. "I don't know, and I wouldn't say who. They are more of a what."
He appeared to chew on that thought, before asking another question, "Out of curiosity, how old are you, Solreen?"
Me, being the wonderfully, brilliant, smart person I am, blurted it out. No matter that I knew I had the appearance of a munchkin, "Fifteen." Yes, amazing plan. Just open your idiotic gob and cough up something no sane person would believe... Just fan-freaking-tastic.
Now imagine my surprise when this Gandalf didn't stare at me or laugh it off as some crazy childish notion. No, he appeared utterly serious and like he had suspected it all along. Maybe he wasn't entirely sane? Definitely possible.
"Then, where is your family?"
Oh, great. Asking about family, perfect. What do I say? Oh, yeah. I'm looking for my sister, we fell in a river. Oh you want to know where my parents are? Your guess is as good as mine!...Right, like that would go over well... Seeing as I had to answer at some point I simply replied, "I don't know."
Oddly, Gandalf seemed unsurprised. But then again why would any...minor...be sleeping in a tree in the middle of nowhere because they were being followed by things? Either way, he then asked yet another pesky question, "Where did you last see them?"
Honor. The river. Oh dear Lord. My fault, all my fault.
That day had started out pleasantly enough; a simple, peaceful picnic by the river before role-playing with the group. It, however, ended far from either simple or peaceful. Walking by the cliff, what imbeciles we were.
The earth giving way beneath me, Honor's look of surprise and horror, her hand catching mine before I could fall.
The momentum making her stumble a bit and put weight on another weak spot.
Gut-wrenching fear, fear of losing my only true family.
Following, trying to reach her.
Failing, watching as she went under.
And it was all my fault.
To Be Continued...
Translations: *Cerweth is July.
*Westron is common tongue.
*Sindarin is the main language of the elves.
Explanations: *Solreen [Laura] is more likely to have visions than Honor Rae. However, her vision will usually be of the past or the present. Honor Rae will have a vision on occasion, but hers are usually of the future or soon-to-be-present.
*Those things are the barrow-wights, as those of you who have read the books will immediately understand. They were sent by the Witch King of Angmar to haunt the Barrow Downs after the fall of Cardolan. They are basically reanimated bodies of the buried kings possessed by demons. They are rather like zombies.
*Anyone can climb trees and anyone could leap from tree to tree if they were close enough. 'The southern edge of the forest was primarily oak and ash, being much more dense than the pine and fir-filled north.' The densest I have seen of a pine and fir forest was a tree every six to eight feet (not jumpable for a human and possibly not even the elves). If the oak and ash forest was denser, then in the best case scenario there would be a tree every three to five feet. Three to five feet is jumpable if you don't mind losing some height while you are at it.
Common side-effects of being inexperienced while doing this would be: bruises, skinned hands, possible panic-attacks, and may not be limited to falling and spraining/breaking limbs, falling and getting concussions, or falling to death if high enough.
*Terabithia- Just had to have it mentioned, I loved that movie and book. Made me cry, but I still loved it.
*Dúnedain (singular: Dúnadan) were the Men who descended from the Númenóreans who survived the fall of their island kingdom and came to Eriador in Middle-earth. After the fall of Arnor and then Arthedain, some of the northern Dúnedain became the Rangers of the North in Evendim. The Rangers of the North, also known as Watchers or simply Rangers, were the last remnant of the Dúnedain who had once populated the Northern-kingdom of Arnor.
Gandalf thinks that Solreen [Laura] is a daughter of one of those rangers. He is also not all that surprised at her age, because 'direct descendants of the Dúnedain are known to live longer than normal Men. It is said that Dúnedain live three times longer than normal Men; that would translate into 240 to 250 years of average lifespan, given normal human lifespan of 80 years.'
'They spoke together in soft voices, at first using the Common Speech, but after the manner of older days, and then changing to another language of their own. To his amazement, as he listened Frodo became aware that it was the Elven-tongue that they spoke, or one but little different; and he looked at them with wonder, for he knew then that they must be Dúnedain of the South, men of the line of the Lords of Westernesse. - description of Faramir's Rangers, as perceived by Frodo'
The Númenóreans and the Dúnedain spoke languages besides Westron, most notably Sindarin. However, more likely than not they may also have had a dialect of their own. It is possible that this little fact might have slipped his mind.
*Funny thing is I could see Gandalf letting a curse or two slip.
*As stated before, once she is out of range for Tom Bombadil's calming/ mind numbing presence, all bets are off. Inevitably, she will panic and have a break down. She has managed to avoid it, because until now she has been able to ignore that giant elephant in the room.
TITLE: The Mandrake Child
SUMMARY: If only he'd been mean, she thought. If only he'd been resentful and harsh, she could have done her duty with a clear conscience, and the regret his death had brought would not have been.
OPINION: It reduced me to tears, it was so moving. A must read.
Thought Process: I have a brimming excitement that goes from the very tips of my toes to the last strand of hair on my head. Did you make your wish(es) yesterday? We made ours. This week has been simply lovely.
Date Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012