Keeper of Realities – Part 5
A loop in the threads of time brings an unexpected knot.
They were called the Elite. Strange beings who thought themselves superior to everyone and everything. Especially the Qua. Long they had watched this knew enemy travel throughout the realities, “fixing” them in her puny ways. She thought her presence held them steady. The Elite knew better. They truly understood the essence of Time as well as the Qua did Magic. The Elite could feel the very threads and fine fiber of that which mortals called Time.
Now they very carefully twitched the threads out of the normal pattern, tying the ends together. The Elite stepped back to watch. It was painful them to change Time; but it was time to test the new Qua. To see if the Maker of the Qua, Contek, still knew what he was doing. The Elite watched her every move, as Qualara repeated the paths of time. After all, it was just a part of the Game.
Eight days, orcs and Gollum after leaving Lórien, Laurie sat up. Her eyes were almost closed, but they saw everything the night had to offer. “Get some sleep, Frodo,” she said softly. Frodo froze in surprise; he had thought her asleep. But then again, they all had been getting used to Laurie knowing who was there without looking.
“I wanted to speak to you,” he said, coming up from behind her.
“Certainly. What is it?” Laurie asked as Frodo sat down beside her.
“What does `crikey’ mean?”
“Where did you hear it?” Laurie said curiously. “I had not thought it was commonly used here.”
“I don’t know,” Frodo answered. “I . . . I dreamt it; I guess. It just sounded odd.”
“It’s a real word, if you could call it that. An exclamation of sorts,” Laurie said watching the hobbit intently. Not used commonly was an understatement: it was not a world of Middle Earth. At least, not that she had ever heard. Which meant it wasn’t.
“Oh,” Frodo said dubiously. “I see. How do you know all these things?”
“What do you mean?”
“Everything! I have never asked a question you don’t know the answer to,” Frodo said quickly. “I mean, you had have learned it all somewhere. And not anywhere near.”
“Gandalf knows much.”
“Gandalf is dead!” Frodo said a little more sharply then he meant. “I am talking about you! Laura, you aren’t from around here. I know that.”
“What makes you think I am not?” Laurie answered, not really answering at all.
“I can feel it. I don’t know how – it’s true, isn’t it?”
“Yes!” Frodo said, excitement in his carefully-quiet whisper. “You’re not from around here at all. Do you come from over the sea? Beyond Middle Earth?”
“Perhaps,” Laurie’s eyes glittered a sharp black. Frodo could almost feel them digging into his mind. “Does it matter where I am from? Does it change the kind of person I am; or how you feel about me?”
“No, no,” Frodo said. “I was just wondering, that’s all. You have a funny feel to you. I meant no offense Laura.”
“I know you did not,” Laurie stopped for a moment, tilting her head to one side. “Excuse me, please. I will be back as soon as possible.” She stood up abruptly, and disappeared into the woods.
They were here; they had come. A shiver ran down at the unexpected thought. He shook it off and went to lie down. There Frodo eventually fell asleep, one hand gripping the Ring protectively against an unknown but certain evil.
Laurie stalked silently into the heavy brush. She did not make a sound, even when she felt the world go wrong.
The day was now growing, and the fog had lifted a little. It was decided that Legolas and Aragorn would go out ahead to find what they would come across. Frodo felt uneasy, as if something weren’t quite right. But then, Gandalf should have been there. Now there were only eight in the Fellowship.
Two or three hours later, upon the scouts returning, the Company went on. One by one Boromir and Aragorn carried the boats, while the others toiled and scrambled after them with the baggage. At last, all was removed and laid out. Fog still hung in thick veils, but they were over the stony teeth of Sarn Gebir.
Already the short afternoon was past, and a dim cloudy dusk was closing in. They sat beside the water listening to the confused rush and roar of the Rapids hidden in the mist; they were tired and sleepy, and their hearts were as gloomy as the dying day.
“Well, here we are, and here we must pass another night,” said Boromir. “We need sleep, and even if Aragorn had a mind to pass the Gates of Argonath by night, we are all too tired – except, no doubt, our sturdy dwarf.”
Gimli made no reply: he was nodding as he sat.
“Let us rest as we can,” Aragorn said. “Tomorrow will come soon enough.
Laurie walked to her next class room – Music-magic – through the black-light lit hallways of Fire-Rose academy. She was as small in this world as most; but it was still a miracle to all those at Fire-Rose how she avoided being flanked by dozens of admirers.
Gliding in, Laurie sat where she always did – in the back corner where she could see everyone and everything with seldom being noticed.
“Attention class,” said Mr. Saturnine, the professor. “Today we will learn the Shenanigan charm. How to make your voice beautiful. Remember, Music is not very agreeable if you have a poor voice. In any case, I’m not.” He waited for the slight laughter, then continued: “Not all of you need it; but it will be on the exam. Any volunteers? Ah, yes, Pierce, go ahead.
Nothing happened during the night worse then a brief drizzle of rain an hour before dawn. As soon as it was fully light, the eight companions set off. They drew skin covers over their boats to keep the short-lived rain out, and slowly drifted on.
Before long, Frodo could see in the distance two great rocks approaching: like great pinnacles or pillars of stone they seemed. Tall and sheer and ominous they stood upon either side of the stream. A narrow gap appeared between them, and the River swept the boats towards it. They neared the Pillars of the Kings. Awe and fear filled the company, an the black waters roared and echoed. A wind screamed over them.
“Fear not!” Aragorn said, his voice strange and magnificent as a king. “Long have I desired to look upon my sire of old. What that Gandalf were with us!” The chasm was long and narrow, but the boats exited swiftly on the other side.
Laurie paddled her small leaf boat beside that of Aragorn, Frodo and Sam. Frodo looked at her in surprise. “There you are!”
“Did I ever leave?”
“I suppose not,” Frodo said doubtfully. “I guess you were here the whole time. It was the funniest thing – I could have sworn you were not.”
“She was,” Sam said assuredly. “We would have noticed if not. At least that’s over,” he looked doubtfully at the back of the Pillars of the Kings and shivered. “I don’t want to never do that again.” Sam said.
“Qualara,” said Chancellor Veils. “Thank goodness you’re here. There is something strange going on. There is a hole in space! I don’t know what it is, but you can look right through this world into the next one! It was lucky we had your call. It has been sucking citizens through! Can you help it?”
“We will see,” said Laurie calmly. “Where is it?”
“On the west side of the Nile,” Veils replied. “Hurry – oh!” he groaned.
“Is something the matter?”
“I can feel it calling,” Veils said. “I must go. It does not matter, no one can resist the Portal!”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Laurie said, freezing him in place. “It will not take so long to fix.” She sighed – another rip in reality – there were so many these days.
The sun, already long fallen from the noon, was shining in a windy sky. The pent waters spread out into a long oval lake, pale Nen Hithoel, fenced by steep grey hills whose sides were clad with trees, but their heads were bare, cold-gleaming in the sunlight. At the far southern end rose three peaks.
“Behold Tol Brandir!” said Aragorn, pointing south to the tall peak in the middle. “From it I hear the endless voice of Rauros calling.”
The nine Companions rested now for a while, drifting south on the current that flowed through the middle of the lake. They ate some food, and then thy took to their paddles and hastened on their way. The sides of the westward hills fell into shadow, and the Sun grew round and red. Here and there a misty star peered out.
The tenth day of the journey was over; the last stage of the Quest before them.-
– “Crikey, Harry, what’s that?” Ron said, pointing. Harry squinted. Perhaps his eyes were deceiving him: near Hagrid’s cottage stood nine very odd looking people.
This part is dedicated to `Lbz’ for sweeping away my writer’s block like a flood through a village of pine needles. Thank you!
Oh, and about the HP thing: no one kill me! I needed to put them somewhere and this is the easiest way. Tolkien’s characters are his, Rowling’s hers. I just mutate and change with my Reality-jumping “heroine.” Maniacal laughter would be appropriate here, I believe. Enjoy!
To everyone else: sorry it took so long. I was STUCK!!! (note the capital letters!!)
Please comment: it keeps me going, encourages me.