Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone - Prologue
This is the second part in the Trilogy of the Dae Kular's actions in Middle Earth. However, I have tried to write it such that if you start here, you should be able to follow everything. The first part is the Lady From Beyond the Sea, and chronicles Zandra's travels with the Fellowship, and her journey to rediscover her past. This part, Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone, tells how Jaessa comes to Middle-earth, and becomes involved in the troubles there.
The mists parted slowly before the small silver ship, revealing at last the land that had so long lain hidden, nestled in their care. Tall white sails kissed the horizon, and a few glided in and out of port. Graceful buildings dotted the landscape, twining about the trees, or resting in their hollows. Atop a mountain a single white tower stood gazing at all that lay below it, and all that lay beyond. Valinor, the land to which every Elven heart is called.
After the long journey the sight should have lifted Legolas's spirits, but within his heart lay only sorrow. This isn't right, he thought sadly, I should never have left Middle Earth. In that land lay his only connection to his lost love. I should have been like Arwen and stayed until grief took me to Mandos Hall.
He heard a hiss of delight behind him, and knew that his companion's Dwarf eyes had now caught sight of Valinor. He turned, and smiled as he saw that Gimli was fingering the little box that had rested next to him on this entire voyage.
It had taken considerable persuasion to convince Gimli that he could not bring the huge crystal case that had housed the Lady Galadriel's gift. Thinking of the time when that gift was receive he raised his eyes to the mists behind them, willing them to part so that he could again see Middle Earth. It seemed that, rather than parting, they drew in thicker, a barrier, seeming like gates on a prison clanging together, the noise echoing, and then fading away like the last chance of freedom.
The Valar had decreed that no Elf should leave Valinor. And Legolas knew he could not disobey their strictures. So he turned back to the ever approaching harbor, and tried to resign himself to his fate.
If only life didn't seem so empty. He reached up and tugged at the golden chain that lay about his neck, until the pearl pendant that hung upon it lay in his hand. Zandra's necklace, a pearl ringed with opal and diamond, her parting gift to him.
She had kissed him, and then had turned and walked into the forests and out of his sight forever. No promises to return, not a word that she wanted him to come with her. Just a gift of a necklace, and a kiss goodbye. She had disappeared. He tried later to trace her . . . to track her down. Elessar had helped as he could, sending treaties, and requests for information to every land, even to the Easterlings, and to the Southrons. All to no avail. She was gone. And now he had to accept that he would never see her again.
He had to start a new life. She would not wish him to sink into despair. He had to let go.
With a yank he pulled the necklace from his neck, and held it in his palm. For a long moment he sat looking at it; he didn't have to call Zandra's image to his mind, for it was constantly there, tearing at his heart. With tears in his eyes he moved to put the necklace into his belt pouch.
A sudden pulse of light stopped him. Pearls didn't glow. He looked closely at the pendant, turning it in his hands, unsure of what he had seen. He let it rest again in his palm. Again a pulse of light came, seeming from the depths of the pearl. He waited again to be certain of what he saw. There, it pulsed again, and again, only the time between the pulses came closer together.
A smile lit his elvish features, more sincere than any since Zandra had left. Hope was not yet lost after all.
Earlier that Morning
Jaessa slipped quietly into the crowded Council room. The walls were stark stone, so different from those of the old hall. Before there had been beautiful portraits of her grandparents, and her aunts and uncles, each painted to capture that vitality that was so integral to surviving as Dae Kular, the Love of Life and of Peace. That feeling that had brought each of the Council Members here in the first place was not in evidence at the moment. She winced at the raised voices. One would think that the High Council of the Dae Kular would be more . . . organized. True, they had just been forced from their previous home, and now there were hundreds of calls for Dae Kular assistance. It was as if every evil in the universe sensed their time of weakness and decided to strike. There were not enough Dae Kular to go around.
She suppressed a sudden urge to yawn. How long since she had last relaxed in her own bed? This search was wearing away at her, both emotionally and physically. She had just arrived from searching yet another of the worlds that lined the Hall. As had become the custom, despite the fact that she was not accountable to them, she had immediately come to report to the High Council, most notably, her mother. Jaessa tried to focus her tired thoughts on the current debate. It was difficult to keep up with the issues of the Universe when one was occupied in searching for one's sister.
"We're going to have to pull all unnecessary Dae Kular from the Dragon issue." an angry voice said, Jaessa knew that she must know him, after all everyone in the Council had been part of their world for a long time, but Jaessa could not at the moment place his voice.
"There are no unnecessary Dae Kular there," a calm voice spoke wearily, Jaessa got the feeling that this was a subject that had been much debated, her mother's words had the quality of having been oft repeated. Jaessa shook her head at the weariness in her mother's voice. Being the Council Head was wearing her down, the responsibility of deciding which Dae Kular was called to which world, who qualified to be Dae Kular, training new Dae Kular aspirants, regulating trade with other worlds, reporting to the head of the Dae Selador, these were overwhelming to say the least, not to mention the added worry about her youngest daughter. "It is already in risk of being lost since Illiana pulled out. You all know as well as I that the Dragon Campaign is critical. There are too many permanent portals there. A loss there would eventually lead to an invasion here, and we have not another safe location to move to."
"But this need in . . ." he paused, consulting his notes, and Jaessa finally recognized Morris, a Dae Kular from a highly technological world. They always tended to lose sight of the big picture while focusing on more immanent alarms. ". . . Middle Earth . . . this sounds equally critical. This . . . Morgoth . . . he knows of us apparently, and Manwe insists that this need is dire, he says that if this Morgoth is not stopped then that entire world will be lost."
Jaessa watched him suspiciously, a world lost was a tragedy indeed, but losing a world with permanent portals endangered not just that world but all worlds. As she watched, a sly look entered his eyes, and Jaessa knew that this "Middle Earth" was merely incidental in his focus. He had never wanted to pull anyone from the Dragon Campaign, and Jaessa was afraid she knew what his focus was. "If we can't pull anyone from there, call back Tinania. This search of her's has gone on long enough."
Jaessa stiffened up, and her mother, Ami, leaped to her feet as a clamor of voices rose, some in anger, and some, to Jaessa's dismay, in agreement. She noted happily that her father, Garet, had appeared, and moved to stand behind Ami. Everyone would think twice about contradicting anything her mother said now. He wasn't known as the Weapons Master for nothing.
"But the Prophecy!" a voice rose above the others in protest.
"What about the prophecy?" Morris said, derision in his voice, "How often have the words of that old woman lead us to disaster? It was she who brought the Valheru into our land to begin with ten thousand years ago, it was she who allowed the Dark Lord of the Ancient Greeks to chase us from our previous home. It is she who sent Zandra who knows where, thus risking everything. Elaina claimed to have been directed by Dae. Well, she sent Zandra away and now Zandra is gone. If she were still alive then she would have made it back, or else we would have been aware that more aid was needed. A conflict requiring Dae Kular aid that lasted for four-thousand years would have long ago attracted the attention not only of this Council, but that of the Dae Selador, and probably every Bounty Hunter and Mercenary in the Universe!"
Silence met his statement. Jaessa had asked herself about that time and again, why had not Zandra requested help? Why had she not contacted them? It made no sense that Zandra could merely disappear for four thousand years. But they had to find her. She couldn't let this . . . insect . . . stop her quest.
Morris was continuing, "And since she can't be alive, and we are not yet destroyed, the prophecy must be false! The ravings of an old woman!"
Jaessa nearly cried out at that, but Ami spoke first, "Zandra is alive," she said confidently, "I know not why she has not returned, but her star still shines bright. Does anyone wish to call into question my powers the way you have my mother's?" Her voice was challenging, and her husband stood menacingly behind her, "My mother did not often have the gift of prophecy, she only knew what her children and grand-children would accomplish. She often called it her gift and her curse. Does anyone wish to doubt her wisdom in regards to my own life?" Again there was silence. Ami had been sent away as a baby, to save her from the Valheru, and she had ended up saving several worlds in her quest to discover her family. In truth it was she who cemented the calling of the Dae Kular, she who set the pattern.
"My mother said that my three daughters together would be the deciding factor in a great battle that will bring about either the end of a great evil, or the Fall of the Dae Kular. Without them, the Dae Kular will fall."
Everyone in the room bowed their heads in acknowledgment of her words, even Morris. "All of life is a balance." Ami recited, "We, the Chosen of the Light, Dae Selador, work to preserve that balance. This is why we are Chosen at our birth, this is why some of us become Dae Kular, this is why we exist." She paused, and then said significantly, "This is why we must find Zandra." Her blue eyes turned to her daughter, and all in the room looked at Jaessa.
"We have no Dae Kular to send, and Tinania cannot be called from her search. We will request that one of the Dae Selador be sent to determine the lay of the land, but in the meanwhile Jaessa will go to Middle Earth," Ami said clearly, on a note of decision, and Jaessa straightened in surprise. She was taking her off the search?! Ami smiled, a mischievous expression on her face, "She hasn't searched there yet."
Author's note: Thanks to all my readers from Lady From Beyond the Sea, and Welcome All to Heart of Earth, Heart of Stone! Here are all the chapters to Lady From Beyond the Sea.
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9291.html - Prologue
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9370.html - Ch 1
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9381.html - Ch 2
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9415.html - Ch 3
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9515.html - Ch 4
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9607.html - Ch 5
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9662.html - Ch 6
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9686.html - Ch 7
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9762.html - Ch 8
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9863.html - Ch 9
http://www.theonering.com/docs/9914.html - Ch 10
http://www.theonering.com/docs/10051.html - Ch 11
http://www.theonering.com/docs/10092.html - Ch 12
http://www.theonering.com/docs/10410.html - Ch 13
http://www.theonering.com/docs/10779.html - Ch 14
http://www.theonering.com/docs/10932.html - Ch 15
http://www.theonering.com/docs/11119.html - Ch 16
http://www.theonering.com/docs/11141.html - Ch 17
http://www.theonering.com/docs/11778.html - Ch 18
http://www.theonering.com/docs/11836.html - Ch 19
http://www.theonering.com/docs/12885.html - Ch 20
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13126.html - Ch 21
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13223.html - Ch 22
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13330.html - Ch 23
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13463.html - Ch 24
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13584.html - Ch 25
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13627.html - Ch 26
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13722.html - Ch 27
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13928.html - Ch 28
http://www.theonering.com/docs/13958.html - Ch 29
http://www.theonering.com/docs/14047.html - Ch 30
http://www.theonering.com/docs/14239.html - Ch 31
http://www.theonering.com/docs/14331.html - Ch 32
http://www.theonering.com/docs/14530.html - Ch 33