An Aussie in King Aragorn's Court ~ Part 38 - To Dream

 Sleeping BeautySleeping Beauty



Desert Rose

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of fire
Those dreams are tied to a horse that will never tire
And in the flames
Her shadows play in the shape of a man's desire

This desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

And as she turns
This way she moves in the logic of all my dreams
This fire burns
I realise that nothing's as it seems

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

I dream of rain
I lift my gaze to empty skies above
I close my eyes, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of her love

I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs through my hand

Sweet desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this

Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of the fall




29th February, 3019


"Three days she's been asleep now. Poor thing. I tell ye, it ain't natural."

Brandgaine turned and handed the plate full of food, and a mug of ale she had prepared to the brown haired man who had propped himself upon a stool beside the counter where she worked. 

The man quickly responded and speared a piece of meat from the plate with his fork, shovelling it into his mouth with ravenous delight.

"Ah! Briar Rose, the Sleeping Beauty they are calling her." he half mumbled whilst chewing.

"How did this become such common knowledge? Only the master's personal servants and guards know about her. Have ye been talking out of turn?" questioned Brandgaine indignantly.

Gethin shook his head at his mother and swallowed a mouthful of ale.


"Drat that wretched girl!" spat Brandgaine vehemently. "She be getting far too big for her boots for me own liking. If the master were to know that she has been blabbing away to all and sundry he would not be pleased. He would not be pleased at all," she emphasised.

"Well it is too late to stop the tales now Mother. All of us here know about the goings on in that chamber thanks to Drysi. She is the talk of the guardhouse. I am sure that the tales of 'Briar Rose' will spread as far as Rohan and even perhaps to Gondor shortly. Drysi has a big mouth, and I overheard her talking about the 'Sleeping Beauty' to a travelling merchant just the other day." Gethin paused and eyed his mother for a moment. "So is she really a beauty then? I have only seen this 'Briar Rose' from a distance meself."

Brandgaine handed her son some freshly buttered bread, then sighed and wiped her hands on her apron.

"Yes and no. I would be more inclined to call her pretty, rather than beautiful, but I'm sure that there be something about her that men would find appealing. And of course, when she be sleeping peacefully, without the fearful dreams that the master gives her, she looks quite lovely. However, I'm worried about this whole business. No good will come of it I tell ye."

"I'm sure that is true Mother, but who are we to question what the master does?" said Gethin between mouthfuls of meat.

Brandgaine shook her head. "I know Son. Ye don't have to remind me. Our family has been in the service of the master since ye were but a pup. Indeed, I have me own reasons to be grateful to him," her voice trailed off for a moment as she turned and wiped down the counter with the edge of her apron.

Gethin watched his mother's back, noting the stiffness that had enveloped her at this last statement. He had only dim memories himself of his father. A large brute of a man who had often taken drunken delight in assaulting his mother on a regular basis. When Gethin's older sister Rhan also came to his attention, their mother pregnant at the time with his younger sister Saeth, had fled taking them both with her. She had hoped to find refuge with distant kin in Rohan. Along the way, they had been waylaid by a small band of orcs near the forest of Fangorn. It was there when all hope had been lost after his older sister had been slain, that the master had found them, and rescued he and his mother before they too suffered the same fate. They were taken into his service grateful for their lives, finding protection under the master, along with the new baby, Saeth who came later.

Their father had come looking for them at one time, but the master had dealt with him and warned him never to return. A small kindness from one such as he, but a great boon to Brandgaine and her children. In spite of Rhan's loss, the family had thrived under the master's care, and now both children were fully-grown. Gethin served as an archer and guard, whilst Saeth was now married to one of Gethin's fellow guardsmen with a household of her own.

Gethin knew his mother Brandgaine to be a good woman. She had served her master well over the years, ever mindful of the debt that she owed him. Her loyalty was without question. Gethin looked over at his mother between mouthfuls, surprised that for once she seemed to disapprove of the master's actions.

"She reminds me a little of Rhan."

Gethin raised his brows at this revelation from his mother. Pushing his plate aside he carefully considered the contents of his mug.

"How so?" he asked tentatively. His mother rarely spoke of his older sister. She had only been sixteen years old when she met her death at the hands of the orcs. His memories of her had dimmed only a little with the passing years. A warm smile mirrored by sad brown eyes, and a gentle hand that would brush away his childish tears. She had often borne the brunt of his father's drunken rages when as a child he would get underfoot. Rhan would comfort him then, in spite of her own hurt, singing sweet songs to calm his troubled heart through her tears.

 "Rhan," he thought silently. "I miss you." Briar Rose was nothing like his late sister. Where Rhan had been dark and small, this lady was tall and fair. To his mind they bore no resemblance to each other.

"She has the same nature as Rhan. Even though she sleeps, she still dreams and speaks and sings whilst she is abed. Rhan would do the same. Though this is different...." Brandgaine's voice trailed off with a troubled air.

"What do you mean?" asked Gethin. He doubted that there was anything really similar between Briar Rose and his sister, Rhan. Brandgaine had never truly gotten over her loss, and he seriously felt that this was merely wishful thinking on his mother's part.

"The master makes her speak. He causes her to speak of things which lay hidden in her heart and he turns her dreams against her.  I have seen him feed her false dreams. 'Sowing seeds' he calls it. I know he hopes to gain some information from the lady. What that is I cannot say. As far as I can tell, he has not learned anything that he couldn't have found out by the mere asking of, if he had but waited until she was ready to tell it. Normally he is a patient man, but I fear that if he doesn't find out what it is he wants to know, sooner than later, it will go ill with her." Brandgaine sighed and removed the empty plate from the counter.

"Mother, it makes no difference. Whatever the master wants to do with her is his own business. Who are we to interfere?" Gethin drained his mug and slapped it down on the counter as he rose. His broad arms embraced his mother as he planted a kiss on her cheek. "Now stop thy fretting, Mother. This lady is no daughter of thine. Ye have two real children in this world as well as three handsome grandchildren from Saeth to worry about, and that should be enough. I must be getting back to my post now." He kissed her one more time before taking his leave. Brandgaine watched him go and sighed to herself as she cleaned up the remaining dishes.




The old man sat in the elegantly carved chair beside the bed where Coralie lay, his sharp eyes focused on her face with calculating precision. He waited patiently for the outward sign that would tell him she was dreaming. Presently, her eyelids began to flutter, and the old man, suddenly alert, leaned forward and gripped the arm of his chair with anticipation.

"Look! Sleeping Beauty is dreamin' again!"

"Quiet foolish girl!" snapped Ôlchir at Drysi who stood nearby. He leaned closer to Coralie as she began to mumble under her breath.

"Legolas, ......... help me.......Azza....." her voice dropped to a whisper as Ôlchir strained to hear her words. Taking her hand in his own, he began to pat and massage it as he soothed her with his voice.

"Legolas is here. Legolas is here," he repeated softly.


"Yes, I'm here."

"Legolas, help me."

"I'm here."

"You are?"

"Yes, Azza too," soothed Ôlchir still massaging her hand, "We are here."

"I'm sorry...."

The old man sighed. "What are you sorry for?"

"Boromir.... I'm not, he's not....." Coralie's voice trailed off. Olchir's eyes gleamed softly in the dim light as he placed his hand over her eyes and began to mutter softly under his breath.

"Now Lady, Boromir is correct about a match uniting our houses. It would please me greatly to give him your hand in marriage. After all, that is the least you owe us Thêldithen." Aragorn eyed Coralie coolly as he spoke these last words. Ever since Gandalf had fallen in Moria, he had not failed to remind her that it had been she who had caused their delay that fateful morning by falling into the well in an effort to recover the Ring.

Coralie dropped her eyes and looked at the strong gloved hand that clasped her own. The owner gazed down at her with a self-satisfied expression on his features. She had chafed at the restrictions that Aragorn had placed upon her, after he had  'assumed' the role of brother by swearing her to himself as sister.

"But, I don't love....."

"Love?" snorted Aragorn. "What has love got to do with it? Boromir is the Steward of Gondor's eldest son, and you are sworn to me as sister. It is not your place to question my decisions. It is your place to obey me. That is your duty. Anyway, Boromir is an honorable man, and would make a fine husband. In fact, I think he would probably make an ideal husband for one such as yourself."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Coralie asked indignantly.

"You can be the most vexing woman at times, Thêldithen, and yes I have been more than patient with you. But it has been to no avail. You still defy me. Even now."


"Don't interrupt me when I'm speaking. You were seen kissing Boromir last night in the garden, and from the reports that I have heard; you were more than a willing participant. I do not know how such matters normally proceed in your world Lady, but you are in my world now. As far as I'm concerned, that was a declaration of love." Aragorn raised his hand as Coralie made to interrupt him once more.

"I will hear no more of your ridiculous tale that Boromir took advantage of you. He is of noble birth, and such behaviour would be completely beneath him. I have witnesses who tell an altogether different story. Although, why our good Boromir here, would want to take on such a woman as yourself is quite beyond me. True, the match would be advantageous for both of our houses; I do not deny that, which is why I have given my sanction to this union. However, I also give Boromir permission to beat you soundly and teach you your place as necessary in order to turn you into something worthy of the position you will soon hold at his side." Aragorn then turned to Boromir and raised his brow at him. "Well it seems to me that you will soon be my brother in law. Come! Before we depart this morning on our quest, let us drink together to 'seal the bargain' so to speak. Though, to my mind, I think you have gotten more than you bargained for!"

The two men guffawed loudly as Aragorn slapped Boromir on the back with this last statement. Coralie stood alone and forlorn as she watched their retreating figures. About the riverbank, the Elves and Hobbits were busy making final preparations for the Company's departure that morning. Gimli approached her.

"As you know, Legolas and I are good friends. An unusual combination considering the fact that I am a Dwarf, whilst he undoubtedly is an Elf, which brings me to my point...ahem," Gimli coughed before continuing. "You had me fooled, Lady, if indeed I can even call you that. I've had my suspicions about you since we met on Caradhras, and now they have been confirmed. You are a slattern of the worst kind. Consider this a threat if you like. Leave the poor Elf alone or you will have me to deal with. The poor fellow claims to love you, in spite of your obvious affection for Boromir. I will not have him played the fool by you. If you persist in this wanton behaviour, it will be the death of Legolas. Don't you understand? He will die from a broken heart. But I'm sure that means nothing to a woman of low reputation as yourself. Perhaps I can make it clearer for you," Gimli's eyes narrowed as he leant on his axe. "If such a thing were ever to happen to my dear friend Legolas, I will make it my personal mission to part your head from your wretched shoulders with my own axe!" The Dwarf spat at Coralie's feet before turning abruptly on his heel in the direction of the boats.

They were all looking at her now. Even Legolas. His face showed a mixture of betrayal and yearning as he gazed at her. Gimli walked up to him and turned him away towards the job at hand. The Hobbits nudged one another and muttered disapprovingly as they eyed her suspiciously.

"I'm glad she's being left behind," said Pippin to Sam who stood nearby with Frodo.

"Good riddance to bad rubbish I say!" spat Sam as Frodo and the others nodded in agreement.

"Never was a truer word spoken," agreed Frodo. "Whatever possessed us to take her this far with us at all? We should have left her on the mountain where we found her. Everything that has happened since then is all her fault. If she hadn't come along, perhaps Gandalf..." Frodo choked back the tears that threatened to spill down his cheeks at the mention of his former mentor's name.

"There, there, Master Frodo," said Sam as he patted the Hobbit's shoulder. "Don't trouble yourself any further about what cannot be helped now."

"How Strider has put up with her thus far is beyond me. He's probably glad to have Boromir take her off his hands anyway.  Frankly though, I can't imagine what Boromir sees in her. He has lost quite lost his head over the lady and I use the term loosely," said Merry with apparent disdain.

"Actually, Merry, I'm not sure it is Boromir's head that is governing his actions at the moment," said Pippin to his friend with a sly wink. The Hobbits chuckled slightly and turned away from Coralie as one.

Coralie looked at everyone assembled on the riverbank. One by one they all turned away before accusing her silently with a solemn look. Even Nólemíre and Calentaeg turned away with the Elven children at their side.

Támurile poked out her tongue. "I hate you!" she mouthed silently.

Galadriel looked disapprovingly at her as she caught Coralie's eye.

"They are all correct. You are little more than a slattern. Your wanton behaviour only serves to prove that Gandalf's death was your fault entirely." Coralie heard the voice inside her head, though Galadriel's mouth formed no words.

"No!" cried Coralie as she turned and fled the scene. She ran up the path away from the river with blind despair as Galadriel's words echoed inside her head. "Gandalf's death was your fault entirely. Your fault! Your fault!"

Suddenly a white figure stepped out from behind a tree and barred her path.

"I have returned from the dead to accuse you!" Coralie stopped and gasped as she recognised the one who stood in front of her.


"Yes it is I. I have returned to confront you with your wicked deeds. My death was entirely your fault. You failed me Coralie. I was depending on you, just as your Grandfather depended on you as well."

"My Grandfather?" Coralie choked on the sob forming in her throat. 

"You have failed both of us, and our death's are on your head! It is all your fault! None of this would have happened if you hadn't come along and diverted us from our path. You are to blame for all that has happened." Gandalf stood still pointing at her with staff in hand.

"But that doesn't make any sense!" countered Coralie.

Gandalf smiled slyly as he replaced the staff in an upright position and leant upon it.

"It's not supposed to make any sense woman. This is your doom now. To live with the knowledge that your failures have caused the deaths of those you pretended to care for. If not for you, we might both be alive. It is your fault!" Gandalf spoke the last words slowly and deliberately as he held her with his eyes. "It is also your fault that Legolas will die as well. He will die of a broken heart all because of you!"

"No!" cried Coralie with desperation.

Gandalf suddenly dropped his staff and grabbed her by the shoulders.

"He will die of a broken heart, and it is all your fault. You shouldn't have loved him. You shouldn't have allowed him to love you. You are mortal and he is an Elf. He will die of a broken heart just as surely as age or disease will claim the breath from your body! You should not have allowed this to happen. Instead you encouraged him. You even made him believe that you truly loved him, when all along it was Boromir you had set your sights on."

"No!" cried Coralie, "That's not true!"

"Ah! But it is true. What woman wouldn't want to be in your position now? You will be a great lady, even though you surely don't deserve it. You deserve nothing but heartache for all the misery you have caused both in this world and your own. All of the problems we face now are your fault! If not for you I would still be alive and able to help. But as you know, I am dead. It is all your fault!"

"NO!" she cried as Gandalf shook her in his grasp.

"It is all your fault!"


"It is all your fault!"

"It's all my fault! It's all my fault!" cried Coralie.

"She is beginning to wake up. Shall I stick her with the thorn from the rose again master? Should I get Brandgaine to give her more of the potion as well?" asked Drysi.

The old man's eyes sharpened as he looked at his servant.

"No. In spite of the fact, that I know you derive immense pleasure from driving that thorn into her flesh at any given opportunity, it is time for the lady to awaken. I believe I have planted enough seeds of doubt in her mind now for her to trust me completely, and I can learn nothing more from her in this present condition. She will be more useful to me now awake."

"It's all my fault!" cried Coralie again as she began to toss her head back and forth upon the pillow.

"Leggy, I'm sorry!" she cried.  A solitary tear slid down her cheek.

Ôlchir brushed it away with a careful hand and stroked her face gently.

"It's alright child," he soothed.

"It's all my fault, I'm sorry," she continued crying as her eyes opened. Utter despair flooded her countenance as she gazed up into the kindly smile of Ôlchir.

"Gandalf!" she gasped.

The old man raised her up into his embrace as she sobbed uncontrollably in his arms.

"You poor child. You have come back to us at last! Everything will be alright, I promise," his voice held a calm authoritative tone as he spoke. Ôlchir continued to hold her as she wept in his arms. "There, there my Dear. There is no need to cry. You have been very ill, my child." Coralie stopped crying momentarily and pulled a little away from Ôlchir.


"Yes, my dear girl. Don't you remember? We were having lunch together, at least four days ago if my memory serves me correctly. You collapsed with stomach pains and have been unconscious all this time."

Coralie sniffed.

"I have?" she wiped her face as she looked up at Ôlchir's relieved expression.

"Yes. And I have been beside myself with worry for you. Both myself and my servants have sat by your bedside these past four days, praying for your recovery."

"You have?" Coralie blinked a little at this revelation.

"It would seem our prayers have been answered," responded Ôlchir. "Now I think you should have a little something to eat. I will send Drysi to get you some soup from the kitchen. You should eat only something light at first."

"I'm not hungry," said Coralie. She sagged a little as Ôlchir held her upright.

"I think that this is an indication that your body needs nourishment after all," he said easing her back onto the pillow. "I shall let you rest a little, but I must insist that you eat something to get your strength up whether you feel hungry or not. But all in good time, child."

Coralie looked up into Ôlchir 's eyes and found herself nodding obediently in spite of herself.

Ôlchir smiled to himself, pleased that she was being so compliant.

"Now rest a little more then my dear. I shall come back later, and you can tell me all about Gandalf."

"Gandalf?" asked Coralie a little puzzled.

"Yes child. You called me Gandalf when you awoke. This Gandalf person seems to concern you a great deal. You kept mentioning his name whilst you lay here unconscious. Perhaps by sharing the details of this person with me when you have recovered your strength again, I can help to ease your pain at his loss. Now rest a little and Drysi will come back with some food for you in a short while." He smiled once more at Coralie, as he motioned Drysi to leave the room, before following her out and closing the door behind.

"Is this to be expected Master? She's been asleep for the past four days and yet now that she has finally woken up, she wants to sleep again?" whispered Drysi as she followed her master down the hallway.

"Yes. Especially considering that the effects of the drug we gave her hasn't completely worn off. I have also probed her mind without mercy as well, and I doubt that she will be able to resist me now that she has awoken, as she did before. Considering all that we have done to her of late, I am not the least surprised that she is exhausted. The beauty of it though, is that she does not suspect a thing, and I have managed to gain her trust through the dreams I have manipulated." The old man's eyes gleamed in the darkened hallway as he led the way.




With a sigh, Coralie sank back into the pillow and closed her eyes.

"If I've been unconscious for the past three days, why then am I so tired," she thought.

Within a few minutes, she had fallen back asleep. There were bruises on her arms.






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