Crimson Sunrise - Chapter 7
Three days and Gandalf let her get up and walk around; three more and Voronde let her walk about in the gardens outside. As she found out, Voronde was a healer, one of a long line, though few healers were ever needed in this place of tranquility. And from what she could get out of Gandalf, (which was much less than she would have liked) she had washed up on shore and been found by a ship sailing away. "To where?" she had asked; but to this he would not answer.
It was a bright, sunny day, and the smell of the sea was fresh on the ever-present breeze. She hobbled about the garden of sweet-smelling herbs and flowers on her crutches, enjoying the feel of the sun on her skin. Her cuts had mostly healed, except for one on her cheek and the one on her lip as well as a few other stubborn ones. She carefully lowered herself on a bench and watched the gulls chase each other above the clouds, sighing contentedly.
Yet, though she felt happy at this moment, and strangely at home though she knew not where she truly was or came from, there was a certain emptiness inside that wanted to be filled. Or rather, whatever should fill it was already there, but something was holding it back. She tried hard to remember, going through everything she had seen or heard in the last few days, and when she got to the end of it, she tried to go farther. She strained her mind, thinking until she was shivering and near tears. Whatever it was wasn't ready to be found yet. She sighed and went back to watching the birds, but found that she felt tired now, though restless deep inside. Standing, she turned slowly around to find Gandalf standing in the doorway. She was beginning to wonder how he managed to always surprise her, but had no time to ponder it, as he spoke.
"You're healing quickly. Whatever ill luck brought you here so violently seems to have left you entirely." He smiled. "Soon I must be leaving, and I'm going to take you with me." She started in surprise.
"But why?" He sighed.
"While they were kind enough to heal you, and most certainly like you, this is a place for elves, my dear. No human has been a here for a very long time, as I've told you in my stories. Of course, you were nodding off so I doubt you would have heard it," he said, smiling gently. "You can come with me- don't worry, I won't be leaving for a few weeks yet, and we'll go slowly, so you needn't worry about your wounds. I'm not entirely sure where, but we'll find a place for you to stay."
Jessina nodded, although she felt rather dejected. This place was like a home already- like an island of light in a dark, unfamiliar room. She sighed, and then yawned. Gandalf smiled again.
"I think, though, that right now the best thing for you to do is rest, and worry about healing." She nodded and followed him inside, where she sat near a window and went back to watching the gulls circle and wheel high above them before going to read in her room.
Later that night, Jessina lay in bed, trying to sleep. The curtains fluttered on a violent breeze that smelled of rain and storm, and it was uncomfortably humid. A light from the lighthouse on the cliff shone into the window every few seconds, making it even harder for her to sleep. Between the flashes from the lighthouse she could see lightning streaking across the sky, lighting up the room and casting eerie shadows on the floor. Though she didn't know why, she was filled with a sense of dread and foreboding. She put her head under her blankets and wept, as a child who fears the thunder would hide under a blanket and cry.
***The wind was howling and the rain was driving down in sheets. Salt water stung her eyes, and cuts that hadn't yet healed completely. She was trying to get something down- a sail; it looked like- from a pole at least fifty feet high. Try as she might, she couldn't reach it. She could see a light in the distance... it seemed familiar, though now it was blinding her, preventing her from getting the sail down. A voice sounded from in front of her, though she couldn't see who was speaking.
"Jessina! What's wrong?" it said.
"The light! I can't see... the light!"
"The light!" she shouted again.
Jessina sat bolt-upright in her bed, tears streaming down her face. Clumsily, she hobbled out of bed and hopped over to the window, pointing out to the lighthouse.
"The light," she sobbed, still in the grip of the dream. "It can save me... I need to get to it..." She attempted to take a step forward- this would have sent her tumbling over the low windowsill to her death on the rocks a few hundred feet below- but was stopped by a pair of strong, slender arms.
"Jessina! Get a hold of yourself, wake up! You're dreaming, calm down!" She allowed herself to be lowered gently to the floor. "Shh, quiet down," Voronde's soothing voice comforted her as the elf smoothed down her hair. "It was only a dream, just a dream..."
"I saw it," Jessina said, sniffling. Her pallid face was illuminated by lighting for a second, and she winced a moment later as the thunder followed.
"The light..." Voronde looked confused for a moment, and then glanced past her out the window, to where the lighthouse stood, still shining brightly.
"You mean you saw the lighthouse in your dream?" Jessina nodded slowly.
"At least I think it was the lighthouse... in my dream it was the light I saw right before I blacked out." Voronde nodded.
"From where you were found, that makes sense. It was only a bad dream," she said as Jessina shuddered and began to cry again. Voronde held her and began to rock, trying to comfort her as best she could. Finally, her tears ceased, and Voronde helped her up and back into her bed. The wind outside was blowing fiercely and rain was coming in through the windows, which Jessina hadn't shut before falling asleep, so Voronde closed them before turning to leave.
"Wait," Jessina called from the bed. Voronde stopped and turned. "Would you mind staying for a while... until I fall asleep?" she asked quietly. Voronde smiled kindly.
"Of course not." She took the chair next to the bed, and thought of what Jessina had told her about her dream while Jessina drifted off to sleep again.
4 weeks later...
She sighed as she packed her things- for some reason this all seemed so familiar, as if she had done it before. Whatever she had been traveling with had been lost, so Voronde had given her a few gowns, as well as clothes that would be better suited to traveling. After finishing she spent a moment in the gardens she had come to love, cherishing the view of the sea for what would most likely be the last time she saw it. She had a strange connection to the sea that she could not explain, but the thought of not seeing it again seemed to sadden her more than leaving the place itself.
"Jessina? Are you ready? It's time to leave." Gandalf's head appeared from around a corner- or rather, his enormous eyebrows and beard appeared, followed by the rest of him.
"I am. I must say goodbye to Voronde first, though." He smiled.
"Don't say goodbye- you may yet see her again. Who knows?" He went off to see that everything was ready. Jessina took the small path down out of the gardens to the front of the house, just noticing for the first time how beautiful the buildings themselves were, how beautifully they blended in to the cliffs and trees and even the sea. She nearly ran into Voronde.
"Well... I'm so glad that of all places you could have washed up, you washed up here," the elf said, smiling sadly. "I hope you remember what happened soon." Jessina smiled and hugged the elf tightly.
"Thank you for being such a friend," she said quietly, hoping her sadness wouldn't show. "You're so lucky to know where you come from, who your family is. But I'll find them." She smiled wider, and so did Voronde as Gandalf led a horse pulling a small cart to where they stood. He helped her into his cart, as her leg was still injured and sore. He climbed up next to her.
"Remember- no goodbyes," he said, nodding to Voronde. "Thank you, my friend." She nodded back and gave a small wave to Jessina. "Well, let's be on our way then!" With a small noise, the horse started forward, and they were off- to where, however, Jessina had no clue.