Hello to new and old readers alike. I wanted to inform you that yes, this is the same story and yes, it is being rewritten. Updates should be relatively quick since most of the chapters are already written and I am just updating and doing some of the transition changes. I am very excited about this to tell you all the truth, and I believe that this story should have been M rated from the start so I can write it as it should've been written. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the new version!
One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
Don't Wake Me Up
Where I Belong
I stare out at the rain as it slides down the glass pane and collects on the outside of the window before dripping to the ground. It's refreshing-the way the rain brings life to the land and keeps people inside-away from me. My reflection stares back at me from the dark window, lacking the colour that defines me. My dark brown hair looks streaky and uneven. My hard grey eyes look devoid of life. My skin looks pale instead of the light tan that comes from my Italian heritage. I look like a ghost. Then again, in some ways I am one.
As I stare out the window at the gloomy forest, a small smile tugs at the corners of my lips. Even now, with the cold rain of early spring, it's beautiful. It's got a dark beauty to it, and a beauty that most people seem to have little taste for. I am tempted to venture out into it, perhaps bringing with me my bow or my dagger.
As a small town girl, thus hunting is just a part of my life. I live right on the edge of the woods, and often venture out into it to hunt. I find it tasteless to kill things without a purpose and often shoot only small rodents and vermin that will become food for something else. Any larger game I usually sell to the butcher and the pelts go to various buyers. Despite that, I often will stalk my prey only to let it go. There is something about killing a living creature that gets to me.
I continue to look out the window, noting the little motions that signal an animal's presence. I glance at my bow which rests in a case with my dagger, missing the freedom that accompanies the forest. The cool, refreshing crispness in the air, the way the sun and stars seem to shine more brightly, and the way everything feels alive. I turn from the window, knowing that to stare at the outside world will only make me long for it.
I tried to live out there once. Two years ago, although I couldn't make it outside of civilization. Without certain amenities, one can get by for a time. But only for so long without proper training and preparing. I don't have the knowledge to survive for more than a month or two and continue to remain healthy.
I step away from the window, intending on returning to the warm comfort of my couch. I detour, unable to resist the allure of my bookshelf. I walk towards the large oak shelf, running my fingers along the spines of old books. I pick one up, thumbing through it. A Wrinkle In Time, by Madeleine L'Engle. A classic, and an old favourite of mine. I smile, skimming a random page of the adventures of Meg. I replace the book on the shelf, choosing instead The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Book in hand, I wander over to my couch before lying down on it and turning on the small lamp on the stand beside it. I open up to the first page, recalling the way this particular tale captivated me.
I hear a knock on the door and look up, wondering who it could be. I stand, laying my book down and walking towards the door. Whomever it is knocks again and I remember that I ordered a pizza. I hurry up and unlock the door before opening it and inviting the delivery girl inside.
"Well, it certainly took you long enough," the girl says. I smile at her words, embracing my friend Leah. She, having been the first friend I made in this town and my current best friend, makes the short trip to my house quite often. Sometimes bringing a pizza at the end of her shift for the two of us to enjoy while watching a movie. She returns the hug with one arm, the other holding the pizza. I take the pizza from her and hand her the payment and tip for it.
"Sorry, was just lost in thought for a bit. Would you like a slice before you go?" I ask, setting the box down on my table. She shakes her head.
"No. Thank you though. By the way, Jared told me to tell you not to worry about the shop tonight. He's got it." She explains and I nod, admittedly somewhat relieved. Jared and I co-own a small bookstore and while I was supposed to close tonight, it seems he is taking my shift.
"I wonder what he wants..." I trail off and Leah smiles, knowing that if he is taking my shift by choice he wants something. She shrugs.
"Anyways, I have to go. Stay out of trouble, yeah?" She flashes me a teasing smile before turning to leave. "I'll catch ya later Els!" She calls over her shoulder before walking off.
I smile at her retreating figure, glad to have her as my friend. She runs to her car and I shut the door behind her, each of us trying to avoiding the rain in our own way.
I look back out the window, my thoughts returning to the dreary world. Despite the grim sky, it is still beautiful. A small light catches my eye and I stare, curious. I suspect children as the culprits, as they often play in the edges of the woods. It's odd that they would be playing there in the rain though.
The light vanishes and I wonder if perhaps I made it up. I stare intently and notice a small light flash a little further back. I doubt it's any of the kids because they usually don't venture that far from their houses. Unable to contain my curiosity, I grab my dagger and a poncho before heading out into the rain.
My dagger is long and I use it for defensive purposes. In case of a bear or worse, I have something close range. It is made of ten inches of stainless steel. The grip and pommel are another six. It's a very large knife and I am competent with it, having learned basic knife play as well as some basic martial arts.
I pull the door shut beside me and head around the side of my house and into the woods. I search for the light, hoping that it isn't my neighbor's kid with a flashlight. That wasn't what the glow looked like though, so I am curious as to what it could be. I spot it off to the side and start heading into the woods, following the odd light. It keeps flashing, always a bit ahead of me and I walk faster, wanting to keep up.
I see it again and this time it doesn't go away. I walk up to it and see a small ball of light. The rain passes right through it and I stare intently, fascinated. That's when I notice what's behind it. A large mirror stands behind the light, old and antique looking. It's beautiful. I step by the light to look at it.
The glass is dark and within it, I can see a figure. It's a woman, around the same height as me. Her hair is like mine, falling just past her shoulders but braided and kept in a ponytail. She is staring at me, her eyes blank and she looks sick. She looks oddly like me and I can't help the shiver that runs down my spine. I try to turn away from the mirror find I can't. I find myself caught and adrenaline begins to pump through my veins. I stare, caught like a rat in a trap and unable to turn away. She beckons me closer and I find myself taking a step towards the mirror, unable to resist the siren call.
My fingers touch the cool glass against my will and I feel something shift. My palm is pressed flat against the glass and my muscles lock up, preventing me from getting away. She slowly walks closer on her side of the glass and I start to notice little differences. Her face is more angular and her cheekbones are more prominent. Her hair is a shade lighter than mine and her eyes are more blue than grey. She looks close enough to me to be my sister though-which doesn't stop the dread I feel as she approaches. In fact, it seems to be more pronounced. I try in vain to scream or run, or break contact from the mirror. She only comes closer. I feel an icy hand touch mine as she touches the mirror and suddenly she is pulling me though. I'm aware of screaming, though I'm not sure who it's coming from.
I wake with a start, sitting up in a full panic. I'm lying in a soft bed, in a quiet room. The only sound is that of my breathing, which is frenzied and sharp. I take in the room, looking at the carved white bookshelves, the small table in between them, the cedar vanity, the tall dresser and the closed door, preventing me from seeing outside my room. There is a large window off to the side of the room, with lemongrass and strange purple flowers on the ledge. Their name eludes me, and they look unfamiliar. Almost like a rose but with daisy-like petals. Peculiar, but pretty.
I sit up, trying to figure out where I am. I feel a bit light headed and use my arms to brace myself so I don't sway. Where am I? What happened to me? I look outside, past the flowers, and am confused. There's a garden, and the tall trees behind it. It's beautiful and nothing like anything I've seen in the town.
"Oh! My Lady, you are awake..."
I turn, not having heard the door open. It's a woman-slender and beautiful. Her eyes are the colour of honey and her hair is long and straight, a golden blonde that compliments her eyes. There are four braids in her hair, keeping it out of her face while still framing it, and coming together behind her head. Her skin is very fair and her lips are a light shade that matches her light appearance. Her features are refined and smooth. Who is she?
"Where am I?" My voice is a bit shaky and I sound weak.
"You are in Imladris, my lady." She replies, closing the door behind her and walking towards the dresser. She opens it, retrieving a light blue dress and matching elbow length gloves. From the shoulders falls an elegant draping cloak which appears to be purely aesthetic. The dress looks soft and darker blue swirls decorate the cloak, back, and shoulders of the dress. It's beautiful but it doesn't look much like something you'd find in a town like mine. Then again, I can tell I'm in a very different place from the name.
Where have I heard that name before? I struggle to recall. Have I been kidnapped?
"May I help you into this, my lady?" She asks.
I nod, distracted. I look down, noting that I am wearing only a breast band and underwear. I blush, not having realized my lack of modesty. I find it immensely odd that I'm not wearing a bra, and my blush deepens as I realize someone must have put the articles on me. I slowly stand from the bed, my legs shaky, and allow her to help me into the dress. She brushes her hair back behind her pointed ear and I stare, a mix of emotions swirling within me. She can't really be an elf. With the dress finally on, she looks at me, noting my look of surprise and confusion.
"Are you alright, my lady?" She asks, concern entering her eyes.
I stumble through a slew of responses and try to think of something sensible to say. Then it clicks. Imladris, elf ears, I remember why it sounds so familiar. It was an elven city in Middle-Earth. But if that's true, why am I here? That was a book.
"I'm fine-just a little disoriented." I stick with something safe, trying not to make a fool out of myself if this is a joke.
"Very good, my lady." She speaks formally, and I feel a bit uneasy. Perhaps she thinks I am something I'm not. What if this is all some big joke? Or worse, what if it isn't?
"Please, call me Elsira if you would." I decide to try and get back on common ground by having her use my name instead of saying "my lady". She nods and I find it a little easier to breathe. Familiarity is good right now.
"Lord Elrond wishes to speak with you. It would not be wise to delay his wishes, Lady Elsira."
I'm already too shocked to really be affected by the knowledge that a possibly real elven king wants to speak to me, and I just nod. The woman leads me from the room and I find the halls just as beautiful. There is a high, vaulted ceiling and arches that smoothly blend into the hall. It's gorgeous, and I reach out to touch the stones. It's too real, and I know not whether to question my consciousness or my sanity. As soon as I enter the room, I know it's him.
His face has an ageless quality and his hair is the color of the darkest of shadows. His eyes are grey and speak of great wisdom. I stand, staring like a fool at him. Could this be real? The elven woman curtsies and then leaves, her head bowed in respect.
Lord Elrond motions for me to follow him and we head into another, smaller room. I spot a tall old man with a long gray beard and kind eyes. He is tall and imposing in a way, and seems familiar. Why do I know these people? They seem so familiar and yet I remember them as if from a dream. Faces lacking names. I think back, trying to recall more about The Lord of the Rings, and the books I read so long ago. It's been six years at least.
"Why am I here?" I ask uncertainly, not sure what to think. A slight twitch of Elrond's lip that resembles a smile catches me off guard.
"That is what I was going to ask you. One of our guests found you unconscious in the forest. You had no markings or papers of any sort on you, and we had no way to find out who you are or why you are here. The only clue was your appearance which matched that of a nomad's." He says smoothly, his voice strong and commanding. There is wisdom and strength even, it seems, in the little things he says.
"Start with your name." The old man says, and I realize with no small amount of surprise that the man is Gandalf.
"My um, ah. My name is Elsira." I stutter, unable to hide my surprise. "I'm afraid I don't have any answers, Lord Elrond. I don't know how I got here. I'm not even from Middle-Earth."
Elrond arches a brow, and Gandalf nods. I look to them, not knowing what else to say. I expect someone to pop in and tell me it's a joke, but they seem so serious. I feel sick, a growing suspicion telling me that this is no joke.
"She speaks the truth. She is from a faraway place. I believe she has yet to see an elf until today." Gandalf's voice is nothing like I expected. I expected it to be slow and contemplative. Gandalf's voice is strong and powerful, and I have no doubt that he is quite an interesting fellow.
I shake my head, admitting that I have never seen a real elf.
"How can that be?" Elrond asks, brows scrunched as a look of confusion takes its place on his face. "How can you never have seen what you are?" His words stop me cold and my eyes widen.
I stare, not daring to breathe lest I divulge the extent of my terror. Did I hear him wrong? I look to Gandalf, and he reaches back to a table before handing me a small mirror. I look at my reflection, noting pointed ears and an elegance and smoothness to my features that was not there before. I reach up to feel my ears, and sure enough they're pointed. I look just like the woman I saw in the mirror. I sit there in shock for a long time, trying to get a grip on what I've just learned. Sure I've always wanted to be an elf, but to actually BE one? I can't believe it. This can't be happening. This must be a dream. This can't be real.
"I'm not an elf... I mean, I wasn't. I'm not really, am I?" I stare, not knowing what to think or feel. I don't care how I look anymore. If someone tells me it's a joke that I've fallen for and everyone laughs I would just be happy to know it isn't real.
Elrond looks as though he feels a bit bad for me and Gandalf returns the mirror to the table. I feel faint, and try to get a grasp on what I've just learned. This is real. All my life, I've dreamed of going to a faraway place with elves and sword fights and magic spells. But that's all it ever was and was ever meant to be-a dream. Back there, it was a struggle to feel as though I belonged, but what if I don't belong here either? At least there I know I'm not alone. There are people like me and people who understand. If this isn't a dream, I can't just wake up when I die. There is no promise of a happy ending here. If this is as real as I am afraid it is, I am terrified. I could be killed by an endless number of things here, whereas back home there were about ten.
"My lady, are you all right?" I realize that my breathing has become rather erratic, and I try to calm down. A small elven boy rushes in and whispers something to Elrond. He nods, and the boy runs off.
"I'm afraid I have some rather important business to attend to, excuse me." Elrond stands and leaves the room. Gandalf looks at me quizzically, examining me.
"Elsira, I know that you are not from here, but would you mind telling me everything that led up to your coming here?"
I nod, trying to figure out where to begin.
"I was alone in my house. It was raining, and a storm had been raging all day. I saw a light but then it went away." As I speak, I find myself remembering all the little things. The window pane, the book I was reading, the pizza... "It reappeared, and I decided to go after it. I wanted to know what it was. I brought only a knife with me, and headed out after it. I wasn't worried because I was always in those woods, but then the light led me to a mirror. It was huge and beautiful..." I pause, remembering the mirror. The way it gleamed in the dim light and it's otherworldly beauty.
"There was a woman in the mirror. She looked like me but she wasn't me. She pulled me towards the mirror and when she touched the mirror, she touched me. I blacked out after that and, well, here I am." I trail off, looking at him with the wide eyes of a deer in the headlights.
"Will I ever go back Gandalf?" My voice sounds small, and almost childlike.
He shakes his head slightly, and the reality of it sinks in. I'm not going back. No more movie nights with Leah, no more late nights at the bookstore, and no more curling up with a book on my couch on long rainy days. It's all gone. I think then of all the things I won't miss. No more pollution, no more cars, no more big cities, no more incurable diseases, no more bombs, no guns, and no more people killing people for the money in their pockets. This world is both better and worse than my own. I don't want this world though, I want mine where things make sense. Where I have a life. Just then the woman from before enters the room and curtsies to Gandalf before turning to me.
"Do you need something, Nyania?" Gandalf asks. That must be her name. She nods, turning to look at me.
"Lady Elsira, there is someone who wishes to speak with you."
I look to Gandalf who motions for me to go before allowing her to lead me down the hall and into another room, this one larger than the last. Inside stands a tall, broad shouldered man. He has shaggy brown hair with flecks of grey and stormy grey eyes. He has an air of strength and nobility about him, and I find myself admiring him.
"Greeting my Lady, my name is Aragorn." I stare for a long moment at his eyes, admiring the intelligent gleam in them.
Why would he want to speak to me? Wait, if he's here… What exactly has been going on? I haven't read the books in years, so I only vaguely remember the story. But I pictured every character, imagined their voices, and every move they made. I remember their faces, but to see them, living and breathing, right in front of me? It's amazing. I realize that I haven't told him my name and flush with embarrassment.
"It's nice to meet you Aragorn, my name is Elsira. May I know your reason for seeking me out?" My tone is very polite because if I recall correctly, Aragorn was royalty. I also cannot help but find him incredibly attractive, and I can't help but want him to like me.
"It was I who found you, my lady. I wanted to know if you were all right." I hear concern in his masculine voice and try not to blush again.
I can't believe he actually took the time to track me down just to make sure I was okay. It is flattering to think that such a man truly thinks me worthy of his time.
"I'm fine thanks to you, and I appreciate your concern. Can I ask you something?" He nods. I want to try and figure out what is currently going on without giving too much away.
"Might I ask about the hobbit? Someone mentioned him, and said that you might know more" I speak cautiously, trying not to reveal too much. I hope that he has already met Frodo. He nods, and I hold back a sigh of relief that I didn't mess up.
"Ah, yes. He is recovering quite well."
It's somewhere in the first book, though for some reason I cannot seem to recall much about it. It's getting harder and harder to recall my life before coming here. Recent events I can remember with ease, but things from the distant past slip from my mind like sand through clutching fingers.
Just then, a halfling man with bright eyes and wavy brown hair walks by the room. He stops, having seen Aragorn and me, and returns to the doorway. I suspect that this is Frodo, judging by his slender build. His smiles when he sees Aragorn, and then his eyes turn to me. I see pain in his eyes, a pain that should not be in the eyes of one so young. He smiles brightly and the pain is gone, replaced by easygoing happiness. He is undeniably handsome and seems very relaxed, though I cannot help but think of him as childlike.
"Greetings m'lady, my name is Frodo."
I can't help but smile at how young and happy he seems. Even in my present situation, where I don't know much of anything, the people here can lift my spirits and bring a smile to my lips. He bows slightly and I see a glint of gold tucked away in his shirt. That must be the Ring. I tear my eyes away from it, not wanting to dwell on such a dark thing in my present state of unease.
"It's a pleasure to meet you Frodo, my name is Elsira." My happiness returns. I smile at the hobbit and watch as he leaves the room. Aragorn turns to me, his eyes scouring me for every nuance of emotion and measuring my reaction.
"He carries a great burden that many men twice his size could not carry." Aragorn says quietly, as if I knew of that which he spoke.
Coincidentally I do, but he doesn't need to know that. Not yet at least. Gandalf walks into the room, capturing our attention.
"Aragorn, you are needed for a council, and perhaps Elsira should come as well. Elsira, why don't you tell Aragorn where you're from? I believe it might be prevalent sometime soon."I nod, and the three of us begin walking as I tell my tale. Aragorn listens intently and Gandalf adds a few comments here and there for clarification. On our way there, I see a breathtakingly handsome elf.
He has long blonde hair and gorgeous eyes. His skin is fair and his features are refined and as close to perfect as they could be. His pointed ears mark him as an elf, and then his eyes meet mine. I stutter over my words for a moment and forget what I was saying.
I blush, unable to tear my eyes from the man before me. He is incredible, and a name flits through my mind. It's his name, Legolas.
I tear my eyes away from him and continue my tale, trying to act as though nothing happened though Gandalf and Aragorn both noticed my reaction. I play it off as best I can but in reality I cannot get my mind off of him. He's already gone, but I'll see him again. I'm sure of it.
I hope you enjoyed the new version of chapter one! A big word of thanks to my beta, Mystic Archer Horse