Don't Wake Me Up

Chapter 10

Lingering Doubt

Elsira P.O.V.

The sun is just beginning to rise, turning the entire sky blood red. I've never seen anything like it and I cannot help but stare in shock and wonder, amazed by the incredible view which is both haunting and beautiful.

I shut my eyes for a long moment, my thoughts drifting back towards what occurred last night. The dreams, the memories, everything is getting to me. I bite my lip, willing the thoughts from my head. They are going nowhere and I stare into the brilliant shining red light of the sky and wish, like so many times before, that I had never been picked. I don't want a part in this fight.

We pack everything up, getting ready to go. We roll up our bedrolls without any words between us, eyes on the bloody horizon. We all know without saying it, that there has been death this night.

We set out, running at a steady pace over the terrain. We run for hours and I know we're close to where we need to be. We decide to stop and form a plan, considering what we may encounter. Aragorn double checks the tracks, ensuring that we are as close as we believe we are. He returns to us, eyes passing over each of us.

"We're close. It would be in our favour to take a moment and eat before going any further to ensure we have our strength." Aragorn suggests. Gimli and I nod, though Legolas doesn't respond. I sit down on a small rock and pull a bit of bread from my pack, eating a small amount more to sooth my nerves than to prepare for the fight. At this point it almost seems silly to be so afraid. My body knows what to do, and if things get bad I can call on Alessia. It's almost like it doesn't matter what I can do.

I approach Aragorn, unsure of how to put into words my thoughts. I want to explore my memories and establish who I am, so I want to spend a little time here in the safety of the nearby forest and then meet up with them at the city that Aragorn suggested is not far ahead. A day or so devoted simply to exploring memories and seeing exactly how much I can do in a fight. Legolas and Gimli sit down to eat and I look to Aragorn.

"May I speak with you alone?" I ask quietly. He nods and we walk a short ways away from Legolas and Gimli.

"I need to leave." I say bluntly. That catches him off guard. I am careful to keep my voice down so that Legolas doesn't hear. "I'm going to return but I need some time to… orient myself. Can you leave me a trail?" It all comes out in a rush, and seems to surprise him.

"I could, but tell me this, why are you really leaving?" His voice is low and smooth. I sigh, having hoped that he would just accept my reasoning. I should have known better. I glance towards Legolas and Gimli for a brief moment before my eyes return to Aragorn.

"Last night I had a vision. I say vision but I suppose it was more like a memory. I'm starting to figure things out that may be useful and I would like some time to explore those memories. I know we're getting close to the orcs, and to the town, you said so yourself. I'll make my way to you and meet you there after a day to sort through the mess of memories I have." I try and make him understand, and judging by look in his eyes I have succeeded. He nods, agreeing to go along with my plan and I smile.

"I'll do what I can to help but why tell only me?" He asks. I try to find the words to explain, and to some extent I'm not even sure that I know the answer to that question.

"I'm afraid they might not understand. I need you to cover me while I leave so that by the time they notice that I'm gone it'll be too late for them to try and stop me." Aragorn nods at the words, once more proving his understanding. I smile at him, unable to help the gleam in my eye at the thought of finally being able to understand what's going on. I turn to look at Legolas, feeling a dull ache of sadness at the prospect of leaving. I push the thoughts from my mind, knowing it's what's best. If I can help the fellowship, then it's my duty to learn how.

Legolas P.O.V.

I sit, eating a bit of bread with Gimli. We do not speak, and while I do not know what is on his mind, I know that the impending fight is on mine. The other thing on my mind is that night on the balcony. I shouldn't have been so forward with Elsira, and it was foolish and reckless of me to think for even a moment that getting involved would be a good idea. I am glad I did not kiss her, as that would have certainly made things worse.

"So, you and Elsira eh elf? Can't say she's bad lookin' but I prefer my women short, and less… elfy." I turn to look at Gimli, unsure of how to reply. Denying it is most likely the best solution so I shake my head.

"We are not together, dwarf. You're reading too much into it." I reply firmly. Gimli scoffs, shaking his head.

"I've seen the way you look at her, elf. You can lie to yourself, you can lie to her, maybe even Aragorn. But I've seen enough love-struck lads to know those eyes when I see em." He replies, enjoying watching me squirm.

"I do not have time for such feelings, dwarf. We have bigger things to worry about." I speak the truth and we both know it. Gimli nods, seeming to approve of my dedication.

"Keep your head on what we have to do. Don't get wound up in skirts." Gimli says in a gruff tone. I cannot help the amused smile that finds its way onto my lips. He is right though, there simply is not time for distractions of any kind.

I turn to look at where Aragorn and Elsira stand talking and see only Aragorn. I feel a mic of anger and sadness, because I can tell from the way he looks at me that he let her leave. I meet his gaze, my own cold and harsh. I cannot bother to hide or deny the anger that I feel knowing that she is gone.

"She will meet us at the next town. Come on, we need to get moving." Aragorn does not bother even to explain where she has gone and I find that I don't know what I could possibly say in response. I nod, trusting Aragorn despite feeling a sharp pain in my chest. It feels like losing Tauriel all over again, except I do not know what might happen to Elsira. She might still return. Gimli and I stand, each without a word, and we follow the orc's trail once more. I need to kill something.

Elsira P.O.V.

I've made my plans to meet up with Aragorn after a few days. I know where to go and how to get there, and all should be well. This is my chance to spend some time learning more magic and searching through old memories to figure out what's going on. Sitting down on the cool, damp grass, I run my fingers through it. The dew on my skin and the smell of the forest feels familiar. It feels like home. I close my eyes, focusing more on my other senses and paying attention to each and every sensation I can. The light breeze and the tangy taste of the earth that it carries, as well as the fresh smell of the rain that fell and the comforting smell of the nearby trees. I focus inwards, past all my experiences and into the mess of memory that I have yet to explore.

The onslaught of memory is almost instantly sickening, a messy swirl of physical sensations and stimuli. Images without connections or background swirl around like a whirlpool in my mind. A black-haired human man with bright eyes in late autumn, the distant wall of a large city cradled by the soft light of dawn that just crests over the walls before vanishing into the clouds which bear a soft orange glow. I see calm forests and rushing streams, and my body remembers the sensation of running through them, pursuing something with my bow drawn. Except the bow isn't mine. It's hers.

Memories of the feeling of running barefoot and the feeling of falling before plunging headfirst into a deep pool fed by a waterfall leave me disoriented and I can almost taste the cool, clean water. Coming up laughing, taking a deep breath and seeing a woman in the water with me. Her hair is long and dark brown and her eyes are the colour of amber, fitting well the smooth caramel of her skin. She swims close, and I can see the scars that mar her cheek and jaw. She smiles, tugging the skin there until it looks almost painful due to the warping of the scars. Despite this there is a certain rugged beauty about her and I feel like she and I were once very close friends. Perhaps she travelled with me.

"Tell me about him…" She says quietly. We laugh and the scene turns to one of a quiet hill. The sun is setting and I am sitting beneath a tree, alone and clutching something tightly. My vision is slightly blurry and I release that it was tears that blurred it. I clutch something tightly in my hand, bringing my eyes down to rest upon it only to find a small doeskin sack. With shaky hands I dump the contents into my other hand, and I feel a pain unlike any other when I see the ashes that I know are his. I clutch them in my hand and take the small seed that fell from the oak tree. I dig a small hole a short ways away from the tree, tears leaving water droplets in the dirt, and press the ashes and the seed into the hole. I cover them with dirt, biting back my sobs of anguish and pain.

"You know, we have eternity together." Says a voice by my ear. The voice is deep and the words are just above a whisper, sending shivers up my spine as I smile, a light blush on my cheeks. We lie side by side under the starry night sky, captivated by the world outside of our own. I turn to look at him, taking in every detail from the brown braid that falls over his shoulder to the mostly-healed cut crossing over his left eyebrow. My eyes wander the strong lines of his face and linger upon the curve of his cheekbones. He is impressive to look at and I blush while lying under the pale light of the moon and stars.

The scene fades and I stand, making my way deeper into the forest. It's beautiful, and perhaps even a bit familiar. I wonder if she had been here before. I look around, taking in the sights and sounds before me. Squirrells rush through the trees and birds make unfamiliar calls. The forest feels so alive, and it becomes easier to distinguish memories from reality as I hear and feel the things that surround me.

I take a bit of bread out of my bag, nibbling on it as I walk. I am struck by a sudden barrage of memory, remembering walking through the forest of Mirkwood with the caramel skinned woman. Her eyes were lined with a bit of kohl and her hair fell freely down to her waist. We were laughing and carrying on, and I was telling her all about the man I had met.

"He's a guard, tall and handsome with chestnut hair and skin a bit darker than mine but lighter than yours. His name is Camaen." The words fell from my lips with a smile and a laugh and my companion giggled in reply.

"A soldier then! Come to sweep the lovely lady Liriadess off her feet!" My companion said teasingly. I swatted playfully at her, gleeful yet embarrassed by her words. I blushed at her words, my cheeks turning a bright red.

"Hush Reniathel!" Was my reply, and we once more descended into laughter. We wandered on through the safe part of the forest around the city, searching for a variety of herbs and berries for the upcoming feast.

"Do you think we will truly go to war?" I asked, looking at my companion. She shrugged, uncertain of the answer. I sighed and she quickly moved in front of me.

"You have nothing to fear, Liria, we will prevail as we always do. We elves will never fade into oblivion. We are the immortals." Her words did little to inspire me and it was evident on my face that my fears remained. Reniathel leaned in, pressing her lips to mine before looking into my eyes.

"We will be fine." She said reassuringly. I nodded, though in my heart my fears remained. Few things are more unnerving than a dragon, and the city had not been so tense since the war against Sauron over two and a half thousand years ago when he was defeated. I forced a smile and a nod, my silent assurance to Reniathel that I was alright. She took my hand, leading me to the clearing where we would find what we needed.

The memory fades and I am left wondering if the elven woman is still in Mirkwood or if she left after Liria did. I know the name of the woman whose body is now mine, and I find myself somewhat reassured by that. Perhaps there is something I can do to honour her once this war is done. I may be able to find Reniathel and learn more about Liriadess. I continue walking, lost in thought as I consider what I have learned. It is a lot to take in, but I can't waste time grieving right now. We are in a war and I am finally starting to understand what that means.

"Alessia?" I place a hand on the necklace that allows me to speak with her and soon enough I hear her voice like a whisper in my mind.

"You made the right choice, coming here." She replies. I sit by a large pine tree, wanting to discuss with her a few things.

"I have to survive this, Alessia, and I need your help to do it. This is your chance to get revenge, and you had better help me because I can't do this alone." I can almost feel her approval at my words and I am quickly becoming aware of how much I can do with her help and with the unintentional help of Liriadess, whose talents might save my life.

"Then we will explore the magic you have at your disposal and see if in the extra day you have on your own you can pick up a spell or two that might help." I nod at her words, trying to plan out how to best use the time that I have. It's very limited so there is no use doing much physical training as I don't have the time. However, magic is a bit easier to work with. A thought dawns on me and I bite my lip, realizing I haven't asked a fairly important question.

"Alessia, how did you know how to use my magic? I thought you were a fighter." There are lots of dots, but it seems that few of them connect. A long pause ensues before she answers my question.

"Galadriel informed me that there was a chance that dark magic would cling to your soul and manifest itself within you, so she taught me the words and motions of a couple spells so that if it happened we could handle it. Her assumption proved to be correct and here we are. Due to the dark nature of the magic, I doubt you can do much healing. You will be almost strictly limited to destructive magic. You may be able to get rid of pain, but you will only be able to treat the symptom not the cause." I take a moment to understand all that she is saying, nodding and trying to make everything make sense.

"Then teach me." As I say the words Alessia shows me all that she learned, giving me thoughts and images. Words and what they mean and I try to take as much of it in as I can. Spells for bolts of lightning and fireballs as well as spells of paralysis and a spell that turns a man into a walking bomb, causing him to explode and possibly injure those around him. I learn as best I can, attempting to make sense of it all. Each spell requires different words, different motions, a different focus. It's a lot to take in and easily more than I can cast.

"You're limited. You must set aside time to practice so that you can cast multiple spells before you collapse." Alessia's words signal the end of the mess of words and gestures she shared with me. I put my head in my hands, trying to make it all make sense and failing. Magic is not easy, and I don't have much time to learn.

"Don't waste any time. You need to practice. One at a time, and then return to your companions. You cannot let them get too far ahead or you won't be catching up with them at all." Alessia's words make sense and I stand, preparing myself.

She goes back over the memory of an easy spell which causes electricity to course through my hands, shocking anything I touch. Elvish words fall from my lips as I close my eyes, extending both hands, palms up, towards the sky. Nothing happens and I open my eyes, confused.

"Focus!" Alessia says sharply. I focus on calling lightning to me, on holding and manipulating it. I shut my eyes once more, saying the words and putting energy behind them. I feel the air around me start to crackle with energy and electricity and I feel empowered. I call the lightning to me, commanding it to do as I wish. I open my eyes, examining my hands to see the sparks that dance around them. I approach a small tree and wrap my hand around it, releasing the electricity. The part of the tree that I touch immediately chars, blackened and dead as electricity lances through it. I take a quick step back, watching the lightning dissipate. My hands return to normal and I look down at them, examining them.

"Not bad for a first try. But you'll have to do better." Upon hearing Alessia's words I nod, knowing that she is right. I take a step away from the tree and drop to my knees, suddenly dizzy. I clutch the dirt tightly, trying to cling to something.

"Stand." Alessia barks the command and try as I might I cannot. I can't get my body to obey.

"Stand!" She commands more forcefully this time. I force myself to my feet, grabbing onto a nearby tree branch to steady myself as I grit my teeth. I walk a few steps, trying to clear my head. I close my eyes, trying to focus on the sounds around me, except that suddenly I can't hear anything at all. The forest is dead silent and I open my eyes, looking around nervously.

"Alessia, why has it all gone quiet?" I ask. I hear no response and I feel anxiety bubble up within me. I look around nervously and nothing moves. There is no wind, and I can hear no animals. I grab my necklace and the odd warmth which usually clings to it is gone.

"Alessia!" I shout her name, hoping she is just ignoring me, before turning back towards the tree I burned. I take one step and smack my face against something. I stumble back and look at what I had run into only to see that there is nothing there. I extend a hand and feel something solid, but I can't see what I'm touching. I walk to the left, running my hand along the invisible object before turning and walking to right, hoping to find a way past it. Anxiety becomes desperation and panic and I get an idea.

I close my eyes, reciting the words for the spell I had just cast. The odd electric sensation occurs again, sparks crackling around my hands and I reach out, touching whatever it is that I cannot see. I watch as lighting arcs up in a dome, showing me a wall instead of an object. I'm trapped, and I have no idea how to get out of instead of an object. I'm trapped, and I have no idea how to get out of here./p