“Found you say?” the tone of voice was melodic and feminine, and sounded slightly confused.
“Yes.” came the soft and concerned reply; a deep and calm man’s voice. “We had nearly reached your borders when Legolas found her lying in the grass. She had with her a strange weapon, the likes of which I have never seen before in Middle Earth. Perhaps Gandalf would know its origin, but he is— no longer with us.” the voice trailed of, sounding remorseful and full of grief.
Eliana heard voices around her as she slowly regained consciousness. Her side was aching with pain, although not as much as when she had been first been struck by the arrow. Gentle light played across her eyelids. She realized she was lying down, comfortably, on a surface so soft that it was like being pillowed upon a cloud.
Gandalf. The name sounded familiar to Eliana, somehow. It was as if he had been her friend at one time, and now was gone, and much missed. But the pieces of the puzzle wouldn’t fit. Where was Gandalf? Suddenly she had a vision:
Gandalf. He was standing alone on the Bridge of Khazad Dûm, staff in hand. He looked like a wizened old tree bent before the onset of a huge storm that was the Balrog. “Gandalf!” the shriek was a Hobbit’s voice, filled with terror for his friend. The Balrog cracked a fiery whip and lightning danced through the air. “You cannot pass!” Gandalf said. “I am a Servant of the Secret Fire, Wielder of the Flame of Anor. The Dark Fire will not avail you, Flame of Udûn!’ Gandalf spun a globe of shining power about himself with his staff. “Go back to the Shadow!” He seethed. The Balrog snorted and raised a sword of molten fire to strike Gandalf down, but it shattered at it hit the shimmering veil about the wizard. Gandalf brought his sword Glamdring and his staff together in his hands. “You shall not pass!” he bellowed as he smote the bridge. A sound like thunder rolled throughout the hall. The Balrog took a step onto the bridge, and whether it was by Gandalf’s spell or fate, the bridge broke, and the Balrog roared as it fell into the darkness below, clutching its whip. Gandalf turned, but as a last desperate stroke the Balrog caught its lash about the wizard’s knees. Gandalf clung to the bridge as his sword and staff hurtled into the chasm. He looked towards the Fellowship clustered on the other end of the bridge, and breathed “Fly you fools!” Then he was gone, sinking into the abyss.
The vision ended as Eliana heard the renewed voices. She didn’t know that tears were streaming silently down her cheeks, mourning the loss of someone she had never met.
“Yes. Gandalf would be a great help. Had he been here he would have been able to give much council, but fate chose otherwise.” Galadriel said. There was a low sigh, followed by the sound of swiftly approaching feet. “Ah, Legolas, you are here.”
Oh, I know who Legolas is. Eliana’s mind said. Elf prince from Mirkwood, long blonde hair, member of the Fellowship of the Ring. Very attractive. Her mind added slyly.
Legolas arrived, his face full of concern, clad in a silvery embroidered tunic given to him by the Elves of Lothlorien. He looked at the stricken elf-maid lying on the couch before him, her lithe form swathed in moon glow and the light of the lamps hung throughout the chamber. He noted the perfect contours of her face, with its pert little nose, unblemished skin, and gently shaped lips. There were tears streaming from her closed eyes, though she was asleep from exhaustion. He felt a strange sensation tug at his soul, reminiscent of a wish to run to her side and make the unseen cause of her tears cease; to protect her from her fears and grievances.
“Yes, my Lady.” The new voice was a man’s voice, kindhearted and comforting to Eliana’s ears. The very sound spoke of peace in the woods, far away. “How is the maiden I found upon your borders? Aragorn had skill enough to remove the arrow, and it was not poisoned, but the March Warden took her to your city before I could learn anything else about her condition, or who she is for that matter. I have wondered about her ever since–“
“Peace, Legolas!” Galadriel said, raising a regal hand to hinder the stream of questions. “She has been seen to. Haldir was able to bandage her wound to prevent more blood loss before she reached Caras Galadhon. She is sleeping now, truly sleeping you may say, for she is much exhausted.” She cast a pitying eye upon the still form of the elf-maiden, and sighed.
“Yes, I would suppose so.” Aragorn said, looking upon Eliana with concern written in his grey eyes. “I was not able to tell how much blood had been lost, but the wound was not fatal. Nonetheless how she was wounded I cannot say. She should be much fatigued in both body and mind, for I do not know how she came to be upon the edge of your wood, my Lady.”
That’s it. Eliana thought. I can’t take this any more. Way to weird. I definitely don’t remember and medics at the center being named Aragorn or Legolas, and I have no clue where I am. I’m getting up. With a small groan of effort, Eliana forced herself to sit up. She hung her head and closed her eyes, praying that she wasn’t dead after the dreadful experience she had.
“My Lady, it is good to see you awake at last.” It was the gentle man’s voice, and he sounded close by. “Will you not allow us to see you beautiful face?” Eliana felt a kind hand on her chin, quietly lifting her face upward. With an act of will she forced herself to open her eyes and see where she was, and who was speaking to her. Immediately recognizing the smiling face in front of her, Eliana let out a shocked gasp, and fell off the backless couch she had been laid on, landing on her backside in a rather undignified manner.
Legolas was surprised to see the astonished eyes of the elf-maiden stare at him with such a piercing, keen glance. It was as if the very light of the stars themselves had chosen to rest in the hazel depths of her eyes. He was even more surprised when the maiden fell backwards off of the divan in apparent shock.
“My lady, forgive me for startling you!” Legolas felt a tug of remorse when he realized he may have startled and possibly distressed this beautiful and seemingly fragile maiden. Her eyes are beautiful; they may outshine even the stars of Varda. He thought. Legolas quickly went to the side of the maid and gently lifted her into his arms, taking care that his consoling hands did not touch the bandaging about her side, and set her back upon the white couch among the soft downy pillows.
Eliana looked around, regaining her composure. She realized she was not on the ground, but in a tree. The very living boughs of it canopied a roof hung with lamps, and a vast branch supported the smooth wooden floor and carved walls that were hung with many sheer veils, which the radiance of the evening stars filtered through. She was reclining on a white pillowed couch, still wearing the silvery blue shirt she remembered from before, although someone had removed her boots and longer outer tunic. There were thick bandages on her side, and she could feel remedial herbs wound within them. Sitting nearby was the majestic Lady of the Golden Wood, Galadriel. Next to her was Aragorn, proud and tall heir of kings. Oh God, I can’t believe this is real, Ellie thought, thoroughly astounded. I- I think I am in Middle Earth.
“Where am I?” Eliana’s voice sounded confused and vague.
“My child, you are in the woods of Lothlorien, in the city of Caras Galadhon.” Galadriel said with a kind smile. “I am–“
“Galadriel, Lady of the Galadhrim. I know.” Ellie finished the sentence for a rather confused Lady of the Wood. Eliana turned her bright hazel eyes towards Aragorn, quietly observing his features. “And you are Aragorn, heir of Elendil, and a member of the Fellowship of the Ring. You’ve been leading it ever since Gandalf fell, haven’t you?” Aragorn looked at the maiden sitting before him, a mild look of awe in his eyes as he wondered how she knew who he was. Lastly Eliana looked towards Legolas, golden brown hair falling in soft waves around her face, clear eyes shining in the gentle light as she held him in her gaze. To Legolas it seemed as if she was seeing into his very soul, searching to find something that was secret. He returned her mystified stare with his bright blue eyes, involuntarily letting his hand reach out to brush Eliana’s tear stained cheek. “You are Legolas,” she breathed, reaching out a smooth fair hand to touch the silken cloth of his tunic, and a soft golden lock of his hair. “Prince of the Woodland Realm in Mirkwood, son of Thranduil.” There was a pause as Ellie unconsciously let her hand fall. “I can hardly believe you are real. I can hardly believe any of you are real.” She said with feeling.
“Yet I am real, Lady.” Legolas said, not at all irritated that this new elf-maid had just touched him before he even knew her name. “Just as you are real and sitting here before me.” There was something that had stirred deep inside of him with the maiden’s touch, a new emotion it seemed, and the feeling of it was beautiful as it was terrifying. The sparkle in her eyes held him in a trance until Galadriel interrupted and broke the enchantment that had become enveloped around him.
“How do you come to know the names of those who are before you, when you have never seen them before in the waking world?” Galadriel asked Ellie.
“I just–know, I guess.” Ellie said. “I–” She tried to remember how she had known their names. She had seen something with them in it… a movie perhaps? The memory of it seemed dim, and only snatches of recollection came to her; the pictures in her mind were hazy and faded as a handful of withered leaves. “I suppose I have seen you before… somewhere. I honestly can’t recall why though.” Eliana finished lamely.
“What we can recall in our minds throughout the flowing seas of time may be changed by naught but the will of Iluvitar. Perhaps you have been sent into this wood for a reason that even the wisest cannot tell.” The Lady of the Wood said. “It would be a great blessing to us if you could perchance recall your own name as you have mine, my child. For that is but a part of the many questions that many will ask you to answer, since you have been brought wounded to this City.”
Eliana paused. Yes, she could certainly recall her name. “I am Eliana Itarildrë.” she said, the words rolling lightly off her tongue, having spoken them for her entire life. Often she wished she knew what they meant, but no nationality could place their meaning. She did know that her descendants had once only used the `Itaril’ part of the name, but changed it to `Itarildrë’ for an unknown reason. “Sometimes Ellie for short.” she continued, waving the thought aside. “Eliana is a lot of syllables for some people to say.”
“Eliana Itarildrë.” The gentle voice belonged to Legolas. “A beautiful name, however long it may be, but just as beautiful as the maiden to whom it belongs.” His very blue eyes met hers and made her feel as if small butterflies were wafting about inside her. Way to gorgeous for America. Ellie decided.
“Eliana.” Aragorn said, smiling. “It is a pleasure to see the maiden for whose life I feared so recently, to be healed.” Aragorn looked at Eliana with peace and relief in his eyes. “Never before have I met an elf-maiden who could have carried the wound that you did for so long and live.”
“A healer should always be happy when their charge is on the path to strength once again.” Ellie said to him. Uh-oh. Why am I using such a formal language? Back home I would have just been like “Yeah, thanks.” Weird! Eliana thought. “I am forever in your debt after the great service that you have rendered to me. I thank you and Legolas both for my life. If it was not for his keen eyes to see me and your hand to heal me, I should have died. But what did you call me before? Elf-maiden?” Eliana gave a small laugh. She immediately realized that was a mistake; the injured muscles on her side burned terribly with the new motion. She winced and put a hand to her burning side. “I am most certainly not an Elf! I am no more an Elf than you are!”
Aragorn traded a confused look with the Lady Galadriel. The three gathered in her room turned to look at Ellie, each with expressions of great incomprehension written on their features.
“What? Did I say something?” Ellie asked timidly.
“My Lady,” Legolas began, but he turned away with a smile on his face.
“What is it?” Eliana said, getting somewhat annoyed. Her hazel eyes were beginning to flash dangerously. The last time someone had annoyed her overmuch; she had taken one of the men on the Olympic team out to the training fields and had a match with him. (The result was that Ellie had ruined a good target and had split nearly all of the arrows with her perfect aim, shooting one on top of the other.)
Galadriel stood up and went to a table near the door. She returned with a silver object, which she placed in Ellie’s hands.
“What is this for, it is just a mirror.” Eliana said. She ran her hands around the edge of the handle. It was a pretty piece of work, wrought from silver and elven-glass.
Galadriel gently took hold of the mirror and held it up to Ellie’s face. “Look into the mirror. What do you see?”
“I see me.” Ellie said shortly, wondering if this was a joke.
With a smile Legolas lightly turned Eliana’s head with the tips of his fingers. The very touch of him made her tremble with unknown delight. “Eliana, there is proof to show that you are indeed an Elf.”
Ellie obediently looked into the mirror. What she saw made her gasp with surprise, yet was delightful all the same. “I um… I ha–have… I have Elf ears.” she whispered.
“Yes, Eliana, you do, you possess the attribute of your kindred that has been ours since the universe was shaped. If this is not proof enough, then your survival from the loss of blood the wound inflicted upon you is more than adequate. Elves do not give up their life as easily as others.” Galadriel said, somewhat amusedly. A gentle smirk played across her lovely face.
Eliana shyly traced the delicate point of her ears with shaking fingers. It’s going to take a while to get used to this. She thought. I just won’t tell them that I was a mortal before this happened. It is probably better to leave that part out. Last thing I need is be rejected when I have just gotten here, because it doesn’t seem like I will be going back home anytime soon. “Well, yes I suppose I do.” She said aloud. She yawned. “I am getting sleepy again, so if there are any more questions for now, ask them quick.”
Aragorn moved to pick something up that was leaning against the wall. “It would be… helpful, if you could tell us about the strange weapon that you were found with. I have never seen its like before. Is it perhaps a crossbow?”
Legolas cut him off as he reached for Ellie’s bow. He ran experienced hands over the bow and the pulleys. “It is definitely a bow, although not a crossbow, it does not have a trigger on it. Not a longbow, it is too small and does not look like it has much range. As for these,” he examined one of the pulleys, “I do not know what role they play. It seems to be made of a material stronger, yet more flexible than wood, and the string does not come off, so that it could never be restrung quickly.” He handed the bow to Ellie. “Is it yours? It is a remarkable creation.”
Ellie took her bow, tracing a subtle leaf pattern emblazoned on it with her hands. She sighed. “Yes, it is mine, and it’s a compound bow. It’s my preferred bow to use, but I can use a recurved bow just as well.” She said.
A weapon in the hands of a maiden? This is interesting and unexpected. I’m not sure that this is a good idea, even in this age of the world. Aragorn thought as he traded a look of vague surprise with Legolas
“Made of fiberglass, is very durable. You see how it is only not very long? The pulleys give it the range of a bow much larger than this size, and make it easier to draw. The string is practically indestructible, so you should never have to restring it. I never used a release aid. To me it never seemed right. Arrows–” Eliana paused. “Well I always used specially designed arrows for this bow. It puts so much more force on the arrows than a longbow, so that if I were to use a wooden arrow, the shaft would splinter and hurt me.” Her voice faltered as she looked up to see the kind faces above her. The person who shot me at the center was using a longbow. She remembered.
“Were there any arrows with me when you, er–found me?” she asked Aragorn.
“None, Lady. There was a small quiver attached to your belt, but it was empty.” Aragorn stood up and retreieved a small object from the table close to the door. Upon closer inspection, Elliana saw that it was the stained remains of what she supposed was a small leather quiver. The color drained from her face, seeing her blood smattered upon it. Aragorn replaced the quiver and put a comforting hand on Ellie’s shoulder before he sat down again. He could feel her slender form wracked with uneasiness and tension through the soft cloth of her shirt.
“Well, I just won’t ever use this bow here. Disuse would be better than injury.” Ellie decided.
“Wise words spoken from a maiden who clearly knows her craft.” The Lady said. “I have but one more question to ask of you, before we shall leave you for today. From whence do you come, and when will you return?”
This was the question Ellie had been dreading. She answered it the best she could. “I came from the United States of America, where I was a member of a competitive archery team.” Sorry, but I don’t think you know what the Olympics are . She apologized inwardly. “I suppose it could be a country in the future now or has gone completely. I seem to have broken a sort of `barrier between the realms’ you could say. Why I am in Middle Earth now, I don’t know. How I know a lot of things, I don’t know. It’s all, just–hard to grasp yet.” Ellie’s voice faltered as she hung her head.
“You have told us more than enough for today, Eliana Itarildrë.” Galadriel said, remembering that Eliana was still exhausted from her trials of the day. “Tonight, you may sleep in peace, for you have endured much.” The Lady of the Wood stroked Ellie’s honey brown hair and smiled at her with a mother’s caring smile as she turned and left the room, silently musing over what she had just learned. Eliana was clearly a maiden with a role to play in this age of the world. Had she perhaps the gift of foresight, or was she sent to Middle Earth from the Valar? And her name… Galadriel had seen the desire for answers in the maiden’s mind when the subject was discussed. She would need to concentrate on that matter in the days to come. These and other queries were heavy on the Lady’s mind deep into the night.
“Lady Eliana, I am glad to see that you are well.” Aragorn said as he stood. “I look forward to your presence in the future, when you are healed of the hurts you bear.” He inclined his head in a kingly way towards her. He turned to leave with a slightly troubled look upon his thoughtful features.
“Hebo estel, Aragorn.” Eliana didn’t know why she said those words, but knew that they would bring comfort to Elendil’s heir when he would have many choices ahead to face. “Do not burden yourself overmuch with the choices to need to make. Hebo estel.” Aragorn nodded serenely and left the room, knowing that this new maiden had given him a good deal to think about in the days to come.
“Eliana.” Legolas said. His eyes made her feel like she was drowning in clear blue water. “I am glad to have met a maiden as extraordinary as you. I would be honored if, when you have recovered, you could perhaps show me your skills with a bow, as you are clearly a maiden who holds the art of archery as close to her heart as I do.”
Oh GOD! Ellie thought. He is way too good to be true! “Of course, Legolas; I would love to.” She said, a blush creeping swiftly onto her features.
“The pleasure would be mine.” Legolas said. Slowly, and carefully, he raised a hand to tenderly brushed the side of her face, and flashed a charming smile before he too exited her room, looking back upon his meeting with the beautiful Eliana.
He couldn’t seem to stop looking at her from the moment he first saw her, injured as she was on the field. From the first time she had looked at him with her eyes as keen as stars, and lightly touched the cloth of his tunic in her astonished childlike curiosity, he had been transfixed by her every movement. Eliana was clearly mesmerized by him as well, and he by her. A new sensation had stirred deep inside his soul tonight, this he knew, and it frightened him even as it filled him with an exhilarating delight.
Legolas did not know that Eliana stared at the door long after he had left, still intoxicated by him. Eliana struggled to contain her new feelings for the elf-prince, until at last a peaceful sleep took her, and her mind blended the living night and her pleasant memories of the day into the beauty of her dreams.