Even though it was two years since Elizabeth fled from the Lady’s “witchcraft”, a day rarely went by when she didn’t wonder about her vision or how she had managed to exceed the doctor’s limit on her life. Little by little, she had managed to live with the fact that death was death and she had to “live life as long and as far as it would go” during the month after her visions in the Mirror. She had also managed to realise that “witch” wasn’t the most proper term to use when referring to Lady Galadriel. Ataur? hadn’t been giving Elizabeth much grief, to her surprise, though she suspected Renatirrael had some part in that.
Still, she never learned what her visions in the Mirror meant. The battle was of the first war against Sauron and the first had obviously been Aaron, but who were the eight strangers and their lost companion?
“Elizabeth,” said an impatient voice, pulling Elizabeth from her thoughts. She looked up to see Renatirrael brushing his raven-black hair out of his face. Then she remembered the hunt and the trail she was supposed to have been studying.
“It went…north,” she said after a moment of study.
“Good.” Renatirrael nodded and set off north at a jog.
Elizabeth followed close behind. She had managed to figure out that four of the five children at the Grey Havens (Galadriel had explained that part of the vision) were also four of the figures in the dark cavernous place.
Thanks to Galadriel and Renatirrael, she had so far managed to grasp most of the elvish customs and some of the language.
At first, Elizabeth had tried to wear dresses but given the fact that she had always been her father’s “little helper” she had found it hard to adjust to always wearing a dress. She had gratefully given her bonnet up; but out of courtesy, she wore the Elvish hairstyle and some of the dresses given to her when occasion called. Now she wore the common male Elvish clothes.
After a while, she had given up on self-pity and found herself happier than what seemed like years. Her coughing fits had left her soon after.
Renatirrael had slowed down and was now creeping slowly forward, bow in hand and ready. Elizabeth copied his actions and followed him as quietly as she could. The stag they were hunting had apparently stopped in one of L?rien’s many hollows. Renatirrael reached out top move some leaves to study where to take best aim as the stag grazed, unaware of the two hunters. A brisk, January breeze suddenly picked up and the stag raised his magnificent head. Elizabeth breathed a sigh of relief as the wind shifted but still came from the north.
The stag put his head down to resume grazing but his head shot up again at the sound of approaching hoof beats. His ears swivelled in the direction of the sound before he leapt off in the opposite direction.
With an angry his, Renatirrael vainly shot his bow, widely missing the already gone stag. He quickly turned to face whatever scared his target off.
Ataur? galloped up with an expression that truly made her look like the witches Elizabeth had heard described to her.
“I hope you’re pleased,” Ataur? snarled. “I knew that one mortal would attract others!”
“Others?” asked Elizabeth. Other mortals were coming here? Usually other important Elves would come here but never in two years had she seen a mortal come to Lothl?rien and she was sorely missing another non-Elf.
“From the west,” continued Ataur? as if never interrupted, and then added, “Look over and see, unless your pathetic mortal eyes are too weak.” Her voice was harsh and angry and her eyes were wild and slightly bulging. “I tried to warn others; to make them see sense! Where mortals to, trouble follows. They bring great evil to the forest; the Lady herself said this!”
Before she could continue, Renatirrael grabbed Elizabeth’s slightly cold hand and led her back into the heart of the forest by an off path route. “Forgot the arrow,” he muttered as hoof beats neared and passed, going back to the city. It was already dusk and night would come quickly. Unless they hurried, it would be late before they arrived home. Elizabeth’s heart felt sad to know that she would never go to her real home, to her parents and brother.
After a while, Renatirrael panted, “At least Mother will have a good meal awaiting our return.” Malwen, Renatirrael’s mother, had taken Elizabeth in once the Elves had realised that her appearance matched her age. And after she found that he still lived with Malwen, she realised the same for Renatirrael; he was in fact, seventeen. Elizabeth too, in four months would be seventeen and she was eager to get her own flet back.
By the time Elizabeth and Renatirrael reached Malwen’s flet, it was pitch black and, though Renatirrael could hardly see, he had to guide them back into the lantern light.
“Are you sure Malwen is still up?” whispered Elizabeth. She glanced up and recognised some of the constellations Renatirrael pointed out to her. She also recognised a few constellations from back home. Her feet found the stairs before her eyes did but she managed to prevent an embarrassing fall.
Renatirrael gave her a slightly amused smirk and answered, “She’s likely to. Either that or she’d be asleep.”
‘Right,’ she thought as her stomach gave a small rumble. While on hunting missions with Renatirrael, Elizabeth had discovered lembas bread, but its effect was beginning to wear off from early this morning.
The welcoming sight of Malwen’s flet as well as the scent of fresh, various foods and warm air greeted the two weary hunters from their trip.
Once full and warm in the covers, Elizabeth pulled a small, leather-bound book out of the pillowcase. ‘Of L?thien and Beren’, read the flowing Elvish script on the cover. She read:
‘In the time when Sauron cast Beren into the pit a weight of horror came upon L?thien’s heart; and going to Melian for counsel she learned that Beren lay in the dungeons of Tol-in-Gaurhoth without hope of rescue….’ But before she read much more than a page, she drifted off into an uneasy sleep.
She was falling, chasing the demon from her vision. She reached for her sword and fell faster toward it, landing on its chest and hacking the sword at its face.
She looked down and saw the water rushing toward her. The demon tried to get away in its hopeless struggle against gravity.
She was chasing the demon up stairs. Its flame was gone but that only made its darkness entirely consume the tunnel before her. Finally, after running for forever, light was finally visible around the demon’s bulk. Even though she had surely run for miles, Elizabeth felt nothing but energy; the energy one gathers right before a desperate fight.
The beast lunged at her, but before it reached her, she was swallowed by the darkness of sleep.
Elizabeth woke feeling exhausted as if she had actually lived her dream. The beast had made her shudder, the demon from her vision in the Mirror. The Light and figure in her vision had actually been a person, not just a light with magical essence within it, conjured by magic.
“Elizabeth?” came Renatirrael’s concerned voice. “You appeared troubled while you slept—at least, just before you woke up. We got back so late, I wasn’t sure whether to wake you or not.”
She could at least tell when certain drams occurred at night or when she recalled only one, but she couldn’t think of any dreams from just before waking up. She shrugged the comment off, “I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it if you had awakened me anyway. Thanks.”
“One of Haldir’s Elves arrived here today. Ataur? was correct, not that I doubted it,” he said, remembering how the she-Elf had acted last night. “But, the news confirms what she says. Lady Galadriel appeared slightly worried, which means Ataur? was also right about the great evil; Lady Galadriel, as you know, doesn’t worry over too many of L?rien’s visitors unless something’s going on that most aren’t aware of.”
‘Where does he get this?’ wondered Elizabeth with a slight frown. Ataur?’s reaction certainly hadn’t been for the sheer fun of it, though why someone would bring “a great evil” here did make Elizabeth doubt her, especially since she had seen no Elf look so horrid over anything. She truly did hate mortals. Elizabeth personally thought it stupid that someone be that grudging over a few mortals coming. “When are they arriving?” she asked aloud.
“They should be here by tomorrow. Haldir found them in almost the same spot another lost mortal was found,” he grinned. Elizabeth smiled back at the reference.
She may be able to befriend them. She just hoped that these mortals would be friendly enough.
Elizabeth and Renatirrael hurried down the stairs of Malwen’s flet to await the other mortals. By now, they would have already met with the Lord and Lady, and would be on their way back down.
They sat down near the bottom of the Lord and Lady’s giant mallorn tree and patiently waited. “What have you found out about the other mortals?” Elizabeth asked.
Renatirrael shook his head. “Nothing we don’t already know,” he replied.
Elizabeth sighed as Ataur? stalked past them and began to climb the stairs, only to come back down a moment later, followed by a group of about eight people. Elizabeth’s heart leapt in her chest. These were the same people from her vision in the mirror. Looking closer, she noticed that the four children looked too old for their height. ‘Then again,’ she thought, ‘maybe like Elves, their appearances don’t match their age.’ But that would have to mean that they were Dwarf sized people, yet were not Dwarves themselves. She was also startled to notice that an Elf was in the group as well and another standing towards the back of the group who probably really was a Dwarf.
She and Renatirrael quickly stood up. Renatirrael bowed. “Mae govannan, Legolas Thranduilian,” Renatirrael said courteously to the Elf. “And Aragorn of the Edain,” he said to the most rugged-looking of the two men of the group, though with equal courtesy.
Elizabeth had heard of King Thranduil of Mirkwood and realised the translation of Renatirrael’s words, so she bowed in respect as well. When she stood straight again, she saw grim amusement and curiosity on Aragorn’s face. “Are you who will led us to the pavilion?” he asked. His voice was dull with grief and she assumed it was for the white figure that fell into darkness with the demon.
“Aye, we are,” replied Renatirrael, beginning to walk away. Everyone followed.
Elizabeth didn’t know what the right thing to say would be so she settled with, “I’m sorry for your loss.” Since Aragorn and Legolas were the only ones next to her, she couldn’t see how the others behind them reacted, if they had reacted at all. Aragorn merely gave a nod of acceptance and they trekked the short distance to the pavilion located near the fountain that was close to the Lord and Lady’s tree.
Once there Renatirrael said before departing, “We will get you anything you wish for the time you are here.” Elizabeth hesitated before following.
“Milady,” said Aragorn, “pray and forgive me that I was rude enough not to ask your names in return.”
Elizabeth gave him a small smile and said, “My companion’s name was Renatirrael and I am Elizabeth Trigg.”
“And what realm are you from?”
“None here,” she replied. His face once again held a grim curiosity but was more guarded this time. “Um, who else travels with you?” she asked after a short pause.
Aragorn first motioned to the little people, pointing to each in turn. “Frodo Baggins and his servant Samwise Gamgee, as well as Frodo’s cousins: Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took.” He pointed to the Dwarf. “Gimli, son of Gloin.” He lastly motioned to the other man. “And Boromir, son of Denethor, of the realm of Gondor.”
“And, what purpose brings you here?” asked Elizabeth.
Aragorn paused with an unreadable expression etched on his face. “Of that milady, I cannot say. Only if the Lady decides you should know.”
“Others were saying it was a great evil,” she pressed.
Aragorn’s expression turned impatient. He said, “That is true, but as I have said, only if Lady Galadriel decides you should know.” It was clear she was dismissed.
“Okay,” said Elizabeth, retreating. She gave a half-bow and followed the direction she assumed Renatirrael had gone: The Hollow, as she had found out he called the place he brought her for her first meal.
Her guess was correct. He was sitting by one of the trees munching on what appeared to be lembas bread. For some reason she was happier than usual to see him, but shrugged it off and walked over.
“What did Lord Aragorn wish to speak with you about?” he asked as she approached.
“He apologised for not asking for our names and asked where I came from,” replied Elizabeth. She sat down next to him. He motioned a wafer of bread in its mallorn leaf packet. She picked it up and began to eat it. “They’re hiding something big, that evil thing Ataur? was yelling about,” she continued. “I asked Aragorn about it but he was more than reluctant to say anything. It’s hard to explain,” she said blushing slightly, “but I almost felt a presence of evil.”
Renatirrael nodded. “That makes sense if it’s what I think it is.”
Renatirrael was silent before answering. “The One Ring.” Elizabeth hardly heard the reply; it was so quiet.
The One Ring. Elizabeth knew she had heard of it and tried to remember what, exactly, she had heard. The One Ring was forged by the Dark Lord, Sauron, who was formerly a Maia of Aul?; and was once a servant of Melkor. The Ring being separated from Sauron was the one thing preventing this world from falling into darkness. It was supposed to have a mind of its own and would attempt to corrupt its bearer in order to lead them to demise in order to return to its master.
“You think t-that they have the One Ring,” she whispered, not asking. She couldn’t believe that eight—actually nine—people would want to go around carrying ultimate evil to who knows where. “Why?”
“Probably to destroy it,” shrugged Renatirrael.
Elizabeth felt a faint stirring of annoyance. Couldn’t he elaborate his answers just a little more thoroughly? Why did she have to ask if she wanted to know more, if any, details? “Could you be less vague, please,” she said, a little sharper than she had intended.
Renatirrael glanced at her, looking slightly surprised and amused. She realised that he had probably intended to make her annoyed. “It can only be destroyed in Orodruin, Mount Doom in your tongue, and nothing else can cause it harm, be it a strong weapon or the hottest forges.”
Elizabeth wondered whether the Lady would have anything that would elaborate on the subject; she found it rather interesting. She decided to ask in the morning.
“Did you want to begin working on your flet in time for your birthday?” Renatirrael suddenly asked.
Elizabeth jumped slightly. “S-sure,” she answered.
“Great.” He stood up and offered Elizabeth his hand. She took it and he pulled her up. “Tell me what your idea for it was,” he said.
“I-I was thinking about making it look like my room from back-back home,” replied Elizabeth. Her mood was dulled once again.
“Oh,” said Renatirrael softly. He put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a small hug. “Maybe you could draw it out for me,” he suggested, planning as he spoke.
“Okay.” Elizabeth smiled weakly and returned the hug.
“Come on,” said Renatirrael, grabbing her hand and pulling her towards Malwen’s flet. She released his hand and responded to his silent challenge to race. She could never hope to beat an elf her age but it was still fun and was something she used to love to do with her brother. She began laughing and was breathless by the time she made it back to the flet. Renatirrael grinned and began laughing quietly himself.
“Come on,” he said again after they had calmed down, and led the way up the ladder.
Once they had reached Renatirrael’s room, he went inside and came out with parchment and something to write with. “Here,” he said handing it to her.
She grabbed it and walked over to a desk and began to map out her room in a bird’s-eye-view, as she remembered it.
The sun was halfway in the sky when she had finished and she handed it to Renatirrael.
“I’ll see what I can do,” he said and sprinted away. Elizabeth hardly had any time to react. By the time she made it to a window Renatirrael had disappeared.
She laughed softly and went to her room to pick up where she had left off in her book. On her way she passed Malwen in her study. Malwen glanced up briefly, smiled, and went back to working on whatever she was working on.
In her room, Elizabeth picked up the poor, abused book and began where she left off:
“Then L?thien, perceiving that no help would come from any other on earth, resolved to fly from Doriath and come herself to him; but she sought the aid of Daeron, and he betrayed her purpose to the King. Then Thingol was filled with fear and wonder; and because he would not deprive L?thien of the lights of heaven, lest she fail and fade, and yet would restrain her, he caused a house to be built from which she should not escape….”