Author's Note: Hey guys! Sorry for the wait, this chapter was pretty long...but that means more for you guys to read! Within the next two chapters, we're going to be at the Council! Ohhh that'll be good! :D
Thanks you guys for everyone who favorited and or followed! YOU'RE AWESOME! :D
Please read and review guys! Much appreciated! Constructive criticism is always welcome too! NOW ONWARD! FOR FRODO!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, except Alyss, and the concept of what she is. Seriously, I don't even own Falada, her horse. That's the name of a horse from a fairy tale I love.
Aragorn was not one to startle easily; in his life he had faced down hundreds of orcs without even batting an eyelash in fear. He had faced down the dreaded Nazgul without faltering; their high pitched screeching barely had any effect on him. Even when Elladan and Elrohir tried to sneak up on him to scare him, he was never startled.
But that scream just took about ten years of his life away.
He had gone to sit at her bedside while she slept so when she woke up, there would be someone there to comfort her. He thought she would have liked that, especially after what happened.
He guessed that he had sort of dozed off. He never had been one to sit by and wait patiently, especially when it came to Alyss. She had always been a whirlwind of energy, and to see her sitting so peacefully was sort of unnerving. If she had been awake she would have been talking nonstop about everything and anything, but as it was she was sound asleep. And the peace and quiet managed to lull him to sleep too.
But no one, not even Elladan could have slept through that.
Aragorn literally sprung out of his seat and whacked his head upon the bedside table, he was so startled. Thank goodness no one had been there to see that.
Groaning in pain as he rubbed the bump forming on his head, he turned back to the bed only to find Alyss thrashing about in her sleep occasionally crying out.
Rushing to her side, he quickly took her by the shoulders and started shaking her gently, which was pretty difficult considering how much she was moving around. He was concerned that she would hurt herself pretty badly if she kept that up.
He had seen Alyss having nightmares before certainly and knew how to snap her out of them, but he had never seen her have a dream this violent before.
"Alyss," he yelled in order to be heard her over her screaming, "Wake up!" Apparently she didn't get the message and continued to thrash about, it didn't seem like she was going to wake up anytime soon. "Alyss!" he yelled a little louder, "Snap out of it! Whatever you are seeing is not real!"
Without warning she abruptly sat up, throwing Aragorn back off of her. Her eyes were open, but she wasn't awake. They were glazed over with sleep, unable to see what was really in front of her. She was deep in the throes of her nightmare. "THEY ARE ALL GONE!" she screamed at the top of her lungs, as she shoved her hand into her mouth to stifle her screams and sobs, "I have lost EVERYTHING!"
"NO you have not!" Aragorn yelled as he grabbed her shoulders again to keep her from throwing herself back down onto the bed, "SNAP OUT OF IT ALREADY!" Shaking her again in an attempt to wake her up he gave up on that venture when he saw it was getting him nowhere.
He couldn't leave her like this though; it was dangerous to leave her in such a state. Despite the circumstances, a devious smirk made its way onto his face as an idea formed in his mind.
"ALYSS!" He shouted, giving her a swift slap upside the head, not hard enough to hurt her of course but hard enough to get her attention. "WAKE UP!" he yelled in her ear.
She stopped thrashing about pretty quickly to Aragorn's relief and slowly lifted her head to look at Aragorn. A small smile broke out on his face when he saw that her eyes were beginning to lose the glazed look and become more alert. He watched as she rubbed her them gently and blinked them repeatedly in an effort to clear her vision.
"Aragorn?" she whispered faintly, her voice cracking slightly from the stress it just received, "Estel?"
His smile grew as he sat down beside her on the bed and took her hand in his own. "It is me Alyss. I am here."
Alyss choked back a cry as she threw herself into his arms and began sobbing into his shoulder. It took all the strength Aragorn had not to fall back off the bed onto the floor. "Aragorn," she sobbed his name over and over, "Aragorn."
"Shhhhh," he whispered as he stroked her hair in an effort to calm her down, "I am here Alyss. It was all just a dream."
She wiped at her runny nose as he said this and he could not hide the small chuckle that escaped his lips when he heard her mutter about how 'stupid crying was so unattractive.'
"You are sure though? It was all just a dream?" she asked quietly, "You are not dead right?"
"Umm, I think so?"
"Not funny," Alyss muttered though a small smile graced her lips as she said this, though it quickly faded away as her nightmare came to the forefront of her mind again. She drew back from Aragorn's embrace and threw herself down on the bed, clutching her pillow to her midsection.
"What happened?" Aragorn asked quietly, easily recognizing the expression on Alyss' face. She was not happy…at all.
"Nightmare," Alyss answered simply as she curled up into an even tighter ball.
"Alyss do you think I don't know that? What happened to cause it?"
"I had a nightmare," Alyss said more forcefully this time, "That is it."
"A nightmare of that magnitude does not happen without cause," Aragorn said incredulously, "The last time you had one like that was after…"
"SHUT UP!" Alyss yelled, cutting him off before he finished, "I know when it happened! You do not have to remind me!"
Aragorn held his hands up in a placating manner, "Sorry, I was just stating a fact."
"Idiot…"Alyss grumbled under her breath as she rolled over so she wouldn't be facing him.
"So are you going to tell me what actually happened?" Aragorn asked quietly, poking Alyss in the back.
"I don't want to talk about it," she grumbled. And she really didn't. Talking about it would require her to think about what happened. Thinking about it would get her upset, getting upset would get her angry and then it would be all downhill from there.
It upset her though that she couldn't talk to him about it. She usually told Aragorn everything! He was like the little brother she never had, a pesky little brother that got on her nerves a lot but she still loved just as much.
But she couldn't talk about it. Not right now, not when the anguish was still so near.
"You sure?" Aragorn asked quietly.
"I am most definitely sure," she answered quickly.
They both lapsed into silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Aragorn was trying to figure out what could have upset Alyss so much and Alyss was trying NOT to think about what upset her so much.
"You know about Saruman do you not?" Aragorn asked out of the blue causing Alyss to immediately stiffen.
"Yes," she muttered through gritted teeth.
"Well alright then," Aragorn murmured as he patted her head, "No need to get so testy. You just answered my question."
"Glad I could be of service," she said sarcastically, very displeased with the new topic of conversation.
"So how exactly did you find out?"
Alyss leveled a glare so intense at him that if looks could kill he would have been no more than a pile of ashes on the floor. "I am not thinking about it," she hissed in order to avoid the question, which was actually true.
She had forced all memories of what happened to the back of her mind in order to avoid thinking about them. Once she had time to calm down, then she could deal with them without any repercussions.
I don't want to get all depressed again, sweet Valar that was horrible the last time. I don't even know how long it took me to snap out of that.
So instead, she made herself forget for the time being. What she didn't 'remember' couldn't hurt her right?
Yes. I will forget it. I MUST forget it. I won't let it bother me.
With that, she took the memories and hid them in the deepest part of her mind, in the paths seldom traveled to places that no one should ever go. There they would remain, where they could not get to her. She could be herself and they would not bother her.
She would be strong this time.
Saruman never betrayed me. None of this ever happened. I don't have to be upset. I am home. I am happy.
"Alyss?" She was broken out of her internal mantra by Aragorn. He was watching her closely as she 'persuaded' herself to forget about what happened.
I don't need them worrying about me.
"What?" she asked, a goofy grin plastering itself on her face.
I am not upset. I am happy. I am happy. I am happy.
"I don't like that look," Aragorn frowned, "You can't get out of answering my question so easily."
She was saved from answering though when Gandalf and Lord Elrond appeared at the doorway. Grinning in triumph, she waved enthusiastically at the two of them and petulantly stuck her tongue out at Aragorn, who rolled his eyes in amusement.
"Welcome to the sick ward!" Alyss called, "We're not taking visitors right now so Aragorn, LEAVE!"
Aragorn put on a mock hurt expression, "What does that make them then?" he asked pointing to Gandalf and Elrond, "Are they not visitors too?"
'No they're the healers, now shoo!" she called sitting up and hitting Aragorn in the back of the head with her pillow.
"I think you're feeling better," Aragorn groaned as he rubbed the back of his head.
"Nah," Alyss refuted him as she sat back down and held her pillow to her midsection again, "I just had enough energy to pay you back for the beating you gave me a few minutes ago."
Aragorn scoffed, "I was waking you up, and I was doing you a favor! You should thank me!"
"Never! The day when I thank you will be the day that I can jump off a cliff and fly!"
"In that case, I will steal Elrond from you for a few minutes," Aragorn smirked as he walked out the door into the hallway, "You cannot have both he and Gandalf, and besides I have something to discuss with him."
"You can't do that!" Alyss said indignantly, "Don't leave me here with Gandalf!" When she saw the indignant look on Gandalf's face, she smirked and added, "Relax, I'm joking."
"I just did!" Aragorn called through the doorway as he motioned for Elrond to follow him. With a small smile directed towards Alyss, he quickly hurried out the door after Aragorn who was waiting for him out of earshot of Alyss' room.
"How did she seem to you?" Elrond asked, immediately knowing what Aragorn wanted to speak about.
"She may not show it, but she is very upset. And I mean, REALLY upset. She will not even talk to me about it," he paused for a minute before he continued, "I know it was a long time ago and I may not be remembering it correctly, but the look I saw on her face was the self-same one I saw about sixty years ago."
Elrond looked over at Aragorn sharply, "You are sure? She seemed no different to me when I came in."
Aragorn nodded, "It was the same. She had that same empty look in her eyes, the same one I saw when she returned from it bearing the news of their deaths. Do you not remember how it was? She looked as if she were an empty shell, devoid of any thoughts or emotion. It was as if she had lost the will to live, but was forced to keep on living as a shadow of what she once had been."
Elrond fell silent as Aragorn explained and began pacing back and forth to help himself think. "Of course I remember it," he said quietly, "It is impossible to forget it."
Aragorn remained silent after hearing Lord Elrond's pained voice, his own memories of that time flitting to the surface. "I am frightened for her," he said softly. At a pointed look from Elrond he elaborated, "When she woke up, she had been in the middle of a nightmare, what it was about I cannot say," he said quickly when he saw Elrond's expression change, "She said nothing about it. But, she had that look in her eyes when she woke up. Her entire demeanor was one of anguish and remorse. But then all of the sudden she was back to her normal cheerful self again, and that frightens me."
"She is bottling up her emotions again," Elrond muttered with frustration that arose from his concern, "She must learn to accept things and move on from them! She cannot hold onto the past forever!" Turning quickly, he strode past Aragorn and moved towards Alyss' room, "I need to speak with her."
"Wait!" Aragorn called and in an effort to stop him, stepped in front of him before he could go further, "I think you should calm yourself first before you speak with her."
"No," Elrond glared at Aragorn, "I will speak with her now. This cannot be put off."
With those words he pushed past Aragorn again and made his way to Alyss' room where he found her and Gandalf talking enthusiastically with one another about some strange topic that seemed to interest them. As he entered though, Alyss quickly glanced in his direction and he watched as a smile lit up her whole face.
Except for her eyes.
No, it did not reach her eyes as it usually did.
"Ada!" she cried with joy and made to get up but was quickly pushed down again by Gandalf. She sputtered in protest but was silenced by a look from Gandalf as Elrond made his way over to the bedside. As soon as he was in reaching distance, she threw her arms around him in an enormous hug. "I have missed you," she whispered.
Elrond smiled faintly as he hugged her back, "As I have you, young one."
Alyss pulled back and laid back down on her bed. "How is everyone?" she asked quickly, "I have not seen anyone for some time now."
"They are all doing well," Elrond answered, "Arwen is still the same, Elladan and Elrohir though, have been out on many scouting parties recently. They should be arriving back home soon though."
"Oh how I long to see them again!" Alyss said in glee, "It has been far too long."
"Indeed it has been," Elrond murmured as his expression became grim, "Much has changed in your absence," he paused a moment before adding, "New enemies have arisen."
Alyss fell silent at his remark as she knew what it was he was implying. "Yes," she said quietly in a strained voice, and though she did her best to hide her pain at this reminder, it still showed in her eyes.
"Alyss," Gandalf cut in, "We know it pains you but you must tell us what happened." Alyss did not answer him, nor would she even look in their directions. They were walking in dangerous waters, and she did not like it. Not one bit.
"Alyss," Elrond said sternly, "It is for your own protection."
"WHY?" Alyss suddenly cried sitting upright in bed faster than should be possible, "Why do I have to tell you! Why should I have to relive that pain? It is over! IT'S DONE!"
"No it is not done Alyss because you refuse to let go! You refuse to think about what happened, and you refuse to accept what has come to be! You are only harming yourself!" Elrond spoke quickly.
"SO? I prefer this to the alternative!" she screamed at the both of them.
"What alternative Alyss?" Gandalf asked quietly, hoping to calm her down. She buried her face in her hands as she lay back down on the bed, she shook her head quickly trying to show them that she didn't want to talk about it. "Alyss, please just tell us," Gandalf continued.
Alyss slowly lifted her head to look at them both, but quickly buried her face in her hands again as she saw their expectant expressions. Deep down, she knew there was no way she was going to get out of telling this one. "He called me to visit him…" she began quietly before breaking off again.
"Yes?" Elrond asked, urging to her continue as he came and sat by her on the bed. He began stroking her hair in an attempt to calm her and ease the pain in telling this story.
Alyss took a deep breath before she continued again.
"He sent word to me, saying that he needed to speak with me."
Alyss brought her horse to a stop at the brow of a hill, overlooking the distant forest of Fanghorn. She looked down at the vast forest, but her eyes quickly found what they were looking for. Her destination: Isengard.
It will be nice to go back again. I have not seen Saruman in quite some time.
She quickly bent over and patted the silver neck of her horse, running her hair through his silky black mane. She smiled as her horse whinnied in pleasure and she bent over to whisper 'well done Falada' in his ear. This was met by another whinny as Falada turned his head so that his dark eyes could look at Alyss.
Alyss smiled again and laughed. "Yes you are right!" she called, "We must hurry! We are needed by Saruman." Before she even finished speaking, Falada reared up in glee and bounded off down the hill in a flash, carrying a laughing Alyss with him.
Together they weaved their way through the dark, ancient forests of Fanghorn, Alyss laughing as the wind created by their speed whipped her dark hair all about her.
This will probably take forever to straighten out again….but who cares! This is fun!
In no time at all they had broken free of the forest and halted in front of the black gates of Isengard, looming tall and ominously before them. When Falada moved to enter, she motioned for him to stay back a moment for something did not seem right to her.
She had never felt it before, but now all of Isengard radiated an aura of…darkness. But there was something else too, something that she could not place that felt like an alien feeling here. It was something that made her blood run cold and her senses scream at her in warning.
But Alyss shrugged it off.
It is nothing of importance.
With another laugh she urged Falada onwards through the gates into the beautiful grounds of Isengard. Following the straight paths, she quickly found her way to the tower, where she saw Saruman waiting for her.
As she rode up to the foot of the tower to stand before Saruman, he said, "You ride as if you had the Dark Lord himself at your heels Alyss, why the rush?"
"I love the feeling of speed, with the wind rushing past me," Alyss laughed, "It's so exhilarating." As she said this she got down off her horse and bowed low to her friend, and he in turn did the same. As she straightened out, she assumed a serious face and asked, "I believe you sent for me my friend?"
"Indeed," Saruman said, his own expression assuming a grave edge, "There is much we need to speak of." As he said this he offered her an arm and nodded towards the gardens, "Come walk with me."
Alyss smiled as she took her friend's arm, and together they walked in the gardens in silence, taking in the sights that Isengard had to offer. It was Saruman who finally broke the silence. "The days are growing darker Alyss," he said ominously, "the evil in the east is festering once more."
"I know," she said quietly, "I have felt it."
"Our enemy has again risen in power." He continued when he saw Alyss' incredulous look, "He may not be able to take physical form, but the eye of our enemy sees all. He is searching for what he lost before."
"The Ring," Alyss whispered, her voice laced with hatred, "That thing should have been destroyed long ago."
"It has been found Alyss."
Alyss remained silent for a few minutes before answering. "You are sure of this?" she asked quietly in a strained voice, as she tried desperately to keep the anxiety she felt out of it.
"Beyond any doubt. It has been in the Shire all these long years, in the hands of a hobbit I believe you know well, a Master Bilbo Baggins of Bag End."
Alyss stiffened at this news, "Bilbo?" she asked quietly, sounding as if she were trying to wrap her mind around that fact, but failing to do so entirely, "Bilbo had the Ring?"
He couldn't have had it. I would have felt it.
"Indeed, and it seems we are not the only ones who know this."
Alyss turned sharply to look at Saruman, "What do you mean?"
"The Nazgul have left Minus Morgul Alyss. They are coming for the Ring."
"The Nazgul?!" Alyss nearly screeched.
No no no no no no no no no no no, I cannot let myself succumb to this. I am not afraid of them anymore.
"Yes," Saruman murmured, "But they are also searching for another prize." He said this looking pointedly at Alyss. When she did not answer, he continued, "You know that Sauron wants you. He knows that you are powerful."
Alyss frowned. "He is foolish to think I would ever join him," she hissed.
"He still believes you may be swayed," Saruman said indifferently, "He has grown powerful, even without the Ring he has grown in strength. If the Nazgul were to find it, and return it to him he would become more powerful than we can even imagine." Alyss frowned and continued walking even as Saruman stopped, "Even for you Alyss."
Alyss stopped and turned back around to face him, positively glowering. "What makes you say such things as this? I can and WILL destroy him if he ever dares to confront me."
Alyss turned to continue walking but the tone of Saruman's voice stopped her. It was low and menacing, something that she had never heard before from her friend. Not towards her anyways. "Against the power of the Dark Lord there can be no victory Alyss."
Alyss whipped around in surprise to face Saruman and froze when she saw his hardened expression. The glint in his eyes had returned, and this time she recognized what she saw. It was evil, pure and unadulterated evil. "We must join with him," Saruman continued, "We must join with Sauron."
He cannot be serious. Right?
"It would be wise my friend," Saruman continued.
"Is this some sort of joke?" Alyss asked in hysterical laughter which abruptly stopped as she continued, "Cause if it is, it is NOT funny."
If it was at all possible, Saruman's expression grew even darker. "This is no joke. With your power there would be no one who could stand in our way, we could rule all of Middle Earth!"
He is serious. He betrayed me.
"No," Alyss whispered as she did her best to keep her emotions from overrunning her reason. A violent battle was going on inside her, one that she was afraid she would lose if it continued. She needed to get out of there now.
"What?" Saruman hissed, his eyes going dark and his expression hardening into a sneer. "What did you just say?"
"I said no!" Alyss yelled as she felt something inside her snap. She could not control the anger that was coursing through her veins, nor did she want to at this moment. "You have betrayed us all Saruman! You have turned your back on everything we have ever worked for! YOU BETRAYED ME!"
"Betrayed?" Saruman laughed, "Betrayed is such a meaningless word. I did not betray you, I am helping you see what your true path is. You belong with the darkness Alyss. It is who you are meant to be."
"NO IT'S NOT!" she screamed at the top of her lungs as the side that still saw reason tried to squash her anger.
"So you still refuse to join me then?" he asked, a cold darkness glinting in his eyes. When he saw her tight nod, his smirk grew into an evil, maniacal grin. "Since you will not join me, I will begin what should have been done long ago."
With those words, he raised his staff and threw Alyss back against a tree. The tree groaned with the impact, though it did not break and Alyss instead was pinned to it as Saruman began to chant a spell. Alyss struggled against the force pinning her to the tree but she soon realized that she could not break out of it with her own strength.
I need to use it. I do not care how upset I am. I have to.
With a small prayer to the Valar begging them to help her remain strong, she tapped into the part of her mind that was closed off and let her power surround her.
It coursed through her, strengthening her against the dark magic that was keeping her bound to the tree. She shut her eyes in concentration as she felt her crystals begin to glow with a warm light. Gritting her teeth, she pulled one arm free from the spell.
She opened her eyes to see Saruman's expression transform into one of surprise and anger. He began speaking a little faster, but the problem with a complex spell such as this though, is that one small mistake and the whole spell is ruined.
That's what I love about oldies. They are SO long and so complex.
With another groan she pulled another arm free, and very soon her leg was free too. Mentally, she laughed as she watched Saruman struggle to contain her while chanting the death spell. While watching him, she felt the anger inside her grow to an unthinkable amount. It was pulsing inside her, just waiting to be released. It wanted her to escape.
He cannot contain me.
With a final groan of exertion, she was completely free of the bonds that held her. Before she realized what she was doing, she was on top of Saruman, her hands latched onto his throat, squeezing his windpipe tightly.
He wanted to kill me.
He clawed at her hands with his sharp nails, leaving long cuts on her arms but she didn't care. She couldn't feel it, not through the blindness of her rage.
He tried to kill me.
She wanted to choke the life out of him then. She wanted to do it more than anything.
But as she watched his face turn blue and the acceptance take its place in his eyes, she found herself loathe to finish what she had started.
She wanted to kill him. She knew that she should, after what he had done.
But she found that deep down, she didn't have the courage.
I cannot do it.
She slowly loosened her grip and in a daze she stood up and backed away from Saruman, who immediately began coughing for air.
She felt her power fade away, taking the anger along with it for now, and she felt the bile rising in her throat when she realized what had almost just happened.
She needed to leave NOW.
I tried to kill him.
Without stopping to look at Saruman, she quickly turned tail and ran as fast as her legs could take her.
"After I left Isengard, all I thought about was getting back to Rivendell to warn all of you. I never took time to think about what happened, or what could happen in the future. I pushed everything that had happened to the back of my mind so that I would not think of it and left it at that. It never occurred to me that he would try to kill me again," she whispered.
"The wargs?" Elrond asked quietly.
Alyss nodded, "They did not catch up to me until I was within hours of Rivendell. I managed to do alright fighting them, but while I was doing so…I guess it all came crashing down on me. It finally occurred to me what exactly I had lost, and what exactly had happened. It hit me hard, and I could not control it. The anguish I felt only fueled the rage I could not contain." Alyss paused before continuing, her voice laced with tears, "I did not realize what I was doing until it was all over, and after that I guess I lost consciousness."
"What did you do Alyss? When you let your anger drive you? What exactly did you do?" asked Gandalf.
Alyss shut her eyes tight and gripped the sheets of her bed with vigor. The way she was wringing it in her hands, it looked as if she were trying to tear it apart. "I slaughtered them," she said in a quiet voice.
"You slaughtered them?" Elrond asked at the same exact time that Gandalf said "What?"
They both looked at each other, before Gandalf continued speaking, "There is nothing wrong with slaughtering them Alyss. They were orcs."
Alyss shook her head. "No one," she said in a small voice, "Not even orcs, deserve to die like that."
Alyss raised her head to look at both of them, a hollow look taking its place in her eyes as old memories were remembered. "They burned," she whispered, "Slowly and painfully, they burned." As she continued speaking, her voice began to rise in volume, "And I laughed at their pain! I stood like a demon amongst the flames that consumed them and laughed!"
"It was like I was reliving it all over again," she continued again in a quieter, more hollow voice, "It was like I was back there, back at the Lake Town watching it burn," she took a deep, ragged breath before finishing, "Except this time I was the one causing it."
"Alyss," Lord Elrond said quietly, his tone of voice making Alyss turn her head to look at him, "It is the past. You must learn to move on. And not just from that, but from Saruman too."
"How?" she asked raggedly as she buried her face in her arms again, "How do you expect me to pick up the pieces of my shattered soul and move on? I have never fully healed from before, how do you expect me to do so now?"
"It is a choice you must make Alyss," Gandalf murmured as he moved round to sit on the other side of Alyss, he placed his hand on her shoulder in support. "You alone can choose to move on, we cannot do it for you."
"The more you hold on to the past, the harder it will be to move forward in your life," Elrond reminded her, "You will never be able to live unless you let go, your past will continue to haunt you to the point of insanity."
Alyss cringed at the last part but said nothing in response to their advice. "I want to," she finally said, her voice muffled by her arms, "I want to more than anything. But I can't."
"As long as you want to Alyss, that is all you can do for now," Gandalf encouraged her, "You will have the strength to do so in time. You must be patient."
"Patience is not my strong suit," she mumbled.
A small smile graced both Elrond and Gandalf's lips at her words, old memories rising to the surface of just how impatient she could be.
"I believe we shall leave you now Alyss," Elrond murmured as he rose to his feet, Gandalf quickly following suit. Alyss jerked her head up to look back and forth between them.
"Though you may be completely healed physically, mentally and emotionally you are exhausted. We will leave you now to rest."
"But I feel fine!" she complained as she threw herself back down on her pillow, "I don't want to rest!"
"You must, we will come back after you have rested. There is much we still need to speak of," Elrond told her as he quickly made his way towards the doorway, Gandalf trailing behind them. With a small smile directed at her, he too left her to her solitude.
I hate it when they're right. But I do need to rest.
With a sigh, she settled herself back in bed and shut any and all thoughts out of her conscious mind. That being done, she allowed herself to drift into the darkness of a dreamless sleep.
No dreams here. I can rest in peace.