Alenor twisted uncomfortably in the tree trying to get some well deserved rest before eavesdropping on the council. She was exhausted, she had been up all night, thinking of the Council and every time her eyes closed a haunting image of a wraith hovered out of sight. Twisting again she rubbed her eyes irritably with the heels of her hands, there had also been another thought plaguing her mind the night before. She was to have another one of those hated weaponry practices with Glorfindel that morning, as it turned out her worry was needless, as he was needed that morning on a scout patrol, trying to gather more information upon the wraiths that had been washed away in the flood.
Coming footsteps alerted Alenor, causing her to stop twisting in the tree and become silent. Peering down cautiously from the leafy canopy she saw her grandfather take his seat at the head of the Council Ring.
“You know Alenor, I know you’re up there. I knew that your curiosity would get the best of you sooner or later. Who told you about the spot up there?” he asked without lifting his eyes.
Blushing guilty and knowing she was caught, Alenor jumped down to the ground, brushing twigs and leaves from her hair. “How did you know?”
“Oh, they may not have known it, but every Council my children would hide up there and listen in,” Elrond answered smiling at her. “So who was it that told you?”
“Arwen,” Alenor muttered.
She saw Elrond raise his eyebrows. “Hmm,” he mused. “Well come sit down Alenor, there’s no use in just sitting up there, I’ll allow you to stay. As this concerns you as well.”
“It does?” Alenor asked in a confused voice. “How? Does it have to do with those annoying practices you keep sending me to?”
“Those questions will be answered later,” Elrond assured her waving to a chair beside him. He smiled warmly. “Don’t ask Alenor, did I not ask you to trust me?”
“Yes,” Alenor admitted glumly, shoving down a yawn. “But it doesn’t help when it’s your future you’re talking about.” She went and took her spot sitting down and leaning back and nearly falling asleep in exhaustion.
“Alenor,” her grandfather’s voice aroused her with a start. Blinking sheepishly she looked at him, silent and waiting for his answer. “You didn’t sleep last night?”
“Those dreams keep coming back to me,” she answered. “Every time I tried to sleep they would hover there waiting for me to fall absolutely into sleep. I was up all night.”
“Did you try to bring the brooch into your dreams?”
“Yes, at least I think so,” Alenor answered. “I’m just really tired and I can’t be sure, is it all right if I fall asleep during the council?”
Chuckling as if he were playing a private joke upon himself, Elrond looked towards the entrance to the Council Ring. At the entrance to the council ring five broad stairs mounted upwards to reach three arch ways, each separated by broad pillars of stone. Trailing vines of flowers were winding their way up the columns. Most were starting to fall to the months of fall. Right at the bottom of steps the Council chairs started a broad Ring that faced the middle stand, the pedestal. On the other side from the steps there were flower plots and a small path that wound in a long circle that often Council members would take when there was a break from the talking and discussing of the council. Elrond’s voice drew Alenor from her thoughts.
“It will be better than sleeping in the tree,” he answered her. “But don’t worry, I fell asleep at my first council, if you want to know.” He winked at her then. “And then during my own councils I have fallen asleep more then once, when the other members of the Council get into some hopeless debate and they don’t notice that I am there at all. It’s well enough that Elves sleep with their eyes open.”
Laughing Alenor pressed a hand to mouth to still it. “Grandfather!” she cried removing her hand. “That is definitely not lord like!”
“A man has to take what comes at him,” Elrond told her. “Just don’t mention it to anyone else, though I am sure that Erestor knows about it.”
“Yes, but a man has to hold the burdens of his stand high, and never fail in his duty, or he may lose his stand,” Alenor countered and saw that odd light spark in Elrond’s eye. “What is it?” Elrond shook his head and gave Alenor a wan smile.
“Nothing Alenor, I was just thinking,” he lied.
Alenor could see it well, Elrond was a very efficient liar, but years had honed the noticing of when he was or not lying. “Are you sure?” she pressed firmly. “Are you really sure?”
Elrond gave her another one of those wan smiles. “Yes Alenor, I was just thinking,” he assured her, and he smiled, slightly at the frown on Alenor’s face. “Do not worry.”
“All right,” Alenor agreed resignedly. “You were just thinking. When is this Council going to begin?”
“Half an hour at the least,” Elrond replied. “We shall see if the others get the bells timed correctly. How is Arwen this morning? I had no chance to see my daughter.”
“Oh, I saw her for a few moments,” Alenor replied with a small smile. “She’s already reclining in her room.”
Elrond chuckled. “She can be feisty when she wishes to be. Ah my Undomiel what fate has chosen you!”
Alenor tactfully did not reply, noticing effectively that Elrond was rather speaking aloud to himself instead of to her. “May I rest then before the Council? Be sure to wake me though.”
“Legolas usually comes down early as well, to make sure I’m not lonely,” Elrond replied. “I’m not sure how much sleep you will actually get.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Alenor pulled her legs into the tight space of the chair, resting her head on her forearms. “I’ll try,” she muttered sleepily, already drifting off again. She didn’t hear Elrond, beside her wishing her a short, but pleasant sleep nonetheless.
Alenor rubbed her arms and ducked her head against the frigid cold biting at her bare skin. Snow and sleet together lashed from the sky above of roiling, black clouds. Thunder and lightening streaked and rumbled threats across the dark sky. Alenor pressed her chin harder against her chest, shivering uncontrollably, she was dressed in naught but a simple shift that was near sleeveless. The shift itself was ripped and tattered allowing the howling cold wind to pass through and freeze her skin. Her lips were already had the dangerous sheen of blue and bare feet frozen and numb on the cold ground.
“Tell me why you suffer,” Alenor turned around slowly, her frozen body almost not agreeing to what she wanted to do. Leaning against a rock wall, not to far away, where surprisingly no snow and sleet lashed about, was a young man. Alenor didn’t answer his question; she only stared in fear, expecting another one of those horrible dreams to become reality of a wraith. The man did not waver from where he stood, but continued to look at her. “Why do you wait? Do you seek death in the cold? Come, come here to warmth.”
“No,” Alenor whispered her teeth chattering and obscuring the words. “How do I know you’re not one of the enemy?” The lashing cold was taking its toll Alenor saw suddenly. She couldn’t feel her feet at all, and before her eyes she could see some spots of blackness from where her hazy mind was slowly shutting down. For the first time about her the snow looked like a comforting blanket of warmth instead of death. As Alenor’s mind screamed no that it would be her death, she sank onto the snowy ground upon her knees. Forcing herself to look up she saw that the man had moved from where he had stood. He was moving towards her, the wind and storm stopping where he moved and continued when he passed. In a matter of mere moments he was kneeling in front of her, and in holding her in his arms protectively. Alenor could feel the heat from his body reflecting on her and she drew the warmth to her own frail and cold body.
“This is no mere dream,” he whispered holding her against the storm. “It is no mere dream.”
“Why are you here?” Alenor asked suspiciously as she noticed the oddness of him being here in her dream.
He drew back from Alenor then and looked her in the eye. “It is not for me to tell, until the time comes and what is evil is vanquished or not,” he said. “Until that time, you are vulnerable to what passes in your dreams. The brooch may protect you in the living realm, but what of the dream?”
“I cannot bring it,” Alenor answered in a guarded voice.
“Look to my hand,” he whispered to her.
Doing as his instructions bade her to do, Alenor looked down. His hand was clenched tightly around something. At his nod, she moved a cold hand and opened his hand. In it was the brooch. “I do not understand.”
Moving his hand, he pinned it to the front of the tattered shift. “It is mirror image,” he explained, “of the real brooch. At my bidding whenever you enter the dream realm it will always be here to protect you. However you must never have the real one with you while you sleep and hold this mirror image.” He stood then and drew Alenor up as well. “It is time to say goodbye.”
“No!” she cried flinging herself into his arms, afraid. For beyond the protective shield the raging storm continued unstopping. The man said nothing as Alenor huddled there in his arms, near to frightened tears. “Do not go. I do not know your name.”
“You will learn my name when it is time young one,” he said patiently. “Do not fear the cold when I leave you will awaken.”
Reluctantly Alenor withdrew from his grasp and he stepped away, the dreamscape went black.
With a gasp Alenor’s head shot up from her lap.
“Alenor are you all right?” She heard the voice and turned to see Elrond conversing quietly with Legolas and Aragorn who had arrived some time after she had fellen. At her unexpected and startled awakening he had become worried.
“Nothing,” Alenor lied quietly. “I’m fine.” She took a deep breath, she was shaking so bad inside. “I’m okay.” She ignored the hard look, resting her head in her knees, what had he been talking about? Who had the man in her dreams been? Alenor took a steadying breath and was happy to find that her grandfather wasn’t pressing the subject.
We return to the forests again. Our hobbit friend has lost all faith and finds the true meaning of apathy by the end of this chapter. He is taken captive by a band of elves and one human. This chapter suggests that some of his past will be revealed soon.