Recap of Tale 6 . . .
[She says you are welcome. Now sit down and drink your hot chocolate.]
Dirnees obeyed, stirring the drink briefly before scrutinizing it more closely. [It looks like mud water.]
[I did not say it was perfect,] was Haldir’s annoyed response.
Dirnees lifted the mug, sipping cautiously at the brown liquid. He paused and rolled the taste around in his mouth and head, decided he liked it, and swallowed it.
Later that day, the four younger Elves were practicing outside when they heard the first rumble of something large coming up the driveway. They stopped, feeling the vibration in the ground, and looked up the private road. When a `vehicle’ rounded the bend, they were directly in its path. The front end dropped to the earth suddenly and all those inside stared back at them.
“Hi, guys!” Krystine called, running up behind the four Elves. Not able to understand the situation, Elrohir put his arm out to catch her and keep her safely behind them. “No, no!” she laughed, wriggling free. Putting herself in front of all four, she faced them and pointed at herself–“I”–at her head–“know”–then jerked her thumb over her shoulder–“them.”
The four relaxed a little and lowered their weapons, but still held them ready as they talked amongst themselves. Krystine jogged to the car and leaned in the driver’s window.
“What’s going on, Krys?” the boy asked.
“Sorry. Some of my dad’s relatives dropped by.”
“Haven’t they ever seen a car before?”
“Of course they have. But where they come from you have to be very careful when you have visitors, particularly when you live so far from civilization.”
He gave a shrug with one shoulder. “What’s up with the weapons?”
“Oh, the whole family is into historic artillery.”
“I knew your dad was weird.”
“My entire ancestry is weird. Therefore, I am weird. Thanks for the compliment; I can die happy.” She straightened, slapping the top of the car door lightly. “Well, go on up to the house. I’ll take care of those four.”
She went up to the Elves, making waving motions to the side. “All right, you four go over there, please. Go on . . . good. Let my friends by.”
[Who are they?] Dirnees asked, watching the car pass them.
[Obviously, they are acquaintances of hers,] Legolas answered. [I believe we made a mistake in challenging them.]
Krystine went to them and took Dirnees’ hands, tugging him towards the house and gesturing for the others to follow. “Papa! Please come out here and explain the situation to them!”
[Are we going to be babe-sat?] Dirnees whined. [We are not children!]
[When you whine so,] Elladan snapped, [how could one tell the difference?]
Dirnees petulantly stuck out his tongue at the other Elf. [Silence, you!]
[Silence yourself!] Legolas snarled. [I am tired of hearing your voice!]
Elrohir rolled his eyes. [Yes, the epitome of maturity . . .]
[. . . Is it really necessary to play music so loud?!] Legolas shouted over the roar of what was currently a `Linkin Park’ song.
[Mortal youths are apparently deaf!] Haldir replied. [Most play worse music louder than this! Krystine has this loud only that so it can be heard over those who are talking!]
While Dirnees, Elladan, and Elrohir had sought peace outdoors, Legolas had decided to examine this strange mortal custom called a `birthday’. He was also attempting to ignore the kids that stared at him every time he spoke. [And what is this a celebration for?]
[It is for Krystine’s birthday; the day she was born.]
[Not her begetting day?]
[No. Her birthday.]
[. . . How strange.]
[It is hardly anything new. Did you never celebrate Estel’s birthday?]
Legolas stared at him blankly. The long years that had passed since his best friend’s death had numbed the pain of speaking about him. [He had one?]
Haldir rolled his eyes. [Yes, he did. He was a mortal.]
[. . . When?]
Haldir blinked. Legolas and Aragorn had always been the best of friends. How could he not know . . .? [He was born March first in twenty-nine thirty-one of the Third Age. When did you celebrate it?]
[Early June, beginning twenty-nine thirty. He told me so.]
[Oh, come now, Legolas! You spent all that time with mortals and learned nothing?]
[I did not realize the date of one’s birth was so important.]
[Obviously you did not study them too closely.]
Legolas snorted and crossed his arms. [If you are speaking of reproductive habits, I did not find it to be of importance. Although you should know plenty about them by now. Please do share your knowledge, as I wish to understand how you can act so smug about this.]
Haldir sighed. [It is simply this: mortals celebrate the day of their birth rather than the day they were begotten. The gestation period for the race of Men is roughly nine months. Living amongst our kind for nearly all of his life, Aragorn merely counted back nine months to be able to celebrate his begetting day.]
[. . . That makes sense.]
[You do not sound as though it does.]
[It does!] Legolas snapped defensively. [It was easier for our kind to understand his begetting day rather than his birthday, but he remained true to his own race by counting back only nine months!]
The grandfather clock in the hall chimed midnight. There was a sudden thump and a short scream. “Krystine!”
Haldir was gone from his place at the wall and at the fallen girl’s side in an instant, Legolas right behind him. A large circle formed quickly and someone cut the music off. Dead silence filled the room.
“What happened?!” Haldir demanded.
Jonathan sensed the surge of power from the west and he snapped his head around to look in that direction, narrowing his eyes at the poster-covered wall that blocked his view of the land beyond.
It was her.
Without even trying he could envision her; straight, silky black hair and soft brown eyes that belied her true power.
He frowned deeply. “So it has come to this . . . You have awakened and so have I. Our powers are set and matched. You have always managed to escape my grasp before, but I know where you are. Do you think you will be able to take flight again and remain hidden, my love?”
He lowered his head slightly and focused on her mind to be sure she heard him this time. He wanted to be sure the chase would be worth it this time around. Alpha is coming for you, Omega, he snarled silently. Start running.
“We . . . We were just talking,” answered a girl who had begun to sob, “and she just froze and fell over.”
Haldir examined Krystine’s blank expression as calmly as possible. She was still breathing and her heartbeat had raised only a few points, but that was slowing to normal and it did not explain what had happened. For all he could tell she was simply sleeping as he and his kin had for untold millennia.
Then, with a convulsive start, she woke. She blinked, then slowly pushed herself up. “. . . What happened?”
“That’s what we want to know,” Haldir told her.
She put her hand on her head. ” . . . I don’t know. I don’t feel different.”
But Haldir did sense something from her. Something . . . more . . . than what she had been before. A glance at Legolas proved that the younger Elf was taking note of the exact same thing. “Do you feel all right now?”
“Yes, perfectly all right.”
She sounded fine, but he was not going to take chances. “Perhaps you should go to bed.”
She automatically looped her arms around his neck as he picked her up. “But Papa, the party . . .!”
“I promise you’ll have another one soon if you want it.”
She rested her chin on his shoulder as he carried her from the room. “Sorry this turned out so bad, everyone.”
“Just take care of yourself,” one boy instructed, and the others nodded solemnly.
Krystine rested her forehead against Haldir’s neck and sighed heavily as he took her upstairs to her room. “Man . . .”
“Sorry, love,” he apologized. “Just let me worry about you, okay? I promise I’ll make it up to you somehow.”
She relaxed in his arms as he laid her on the bed. “I’m kind of tired now anyway; I guess it doesn’t really matter.” She yawned. “`Night, Papa.”
“Good night, Krystine.” He closed the door to her room and let out a small breath, expecting it to be a quiet night.
He should have known better.
At about three a.m., he was awakened by a terrified scream.
He was up in an instant, bolting from his room and upstairs past Marie, who stood in the doorway to her own room, to Krystine’s room. He flung open the door to find Krystine on the floor, the sheets tangled around her, crying in her panic. She saw him and reached out toward him with both arms pleadingly.
“Papa . . .”
He entered her room and went to her, kneeling beside her and gathering her in a gentle embrace. She hid her eyes in his shoulder and trembled viciously, letting out frightened whimpers. He soothed her, stroking her hair gently. “Shh,” he cooed softly. “Shh. You are safe here.”
“Papa, I’m scared. He said . . . He said he was coming . . . to get me.”
“I don’t know. He was . . . was dressed all in white. I’ve never . . . seen him before in my life.”
“Did he say anything else?”
“He . . . He called me . . . Omega.”
Haldir recognized that. “Marie!”
She squeezed past the other four Elves who had crowded in the doorway and knelt beside him, rubbing her daughter’s shoulder supportively. “Yes?”
Marie frowned thoughtfully. “Well, historically, `omega’ is the name of the twenty-third letter–the last letter–in the Greek alphabet. The lowercase is usually denoted by a small double-u while the uppercase is a stylized sort of horseshoe . . .” She paused in surprise, then said, “Like that.”
Haldir looked where Marie pointed, taking Krystine’s left wrist and turning it over to reveal exactly what the woman had described on the girl’s palm. Krystine let out a terrified whimper-squeal and refused to look at it. “. . . Is there anything else it could mean?”
Marie let out a sharp breath. “. . . `Omega’ has also been symbolic as the `last’ or the `final’ or the `end’ in many writings. The yang part of the yin and yang. That can mean anything from Satan to the last person in a line at the bank.”
This was not going where Haldir wished it would go; he knew that `Satan’ was the mortals’ new vision of Morgoth and he did not appreciate that Krystine was being considered as such. “Yang? What does that stand for?”
“It’s something in some far eastern religion that signifies perfect balance. I know you’ve seen it before. It’s black and white with a white dot in the black and a black dot in the white.”
“Yes, I remember.”
“The black half represents a female, the negative, cold, and darkness.”
“What about the white half?”
“The yin represents a male, the positive, heat, and light.”
“. . . Alpha?” came the quiet murmur from Krystine, who trembled in fear.
Marie blinked in surprise and looked down at her. “Yes, alpha . . . But how did you know?”
“That’s . . . That’s what he . . . called himself.” She nuzzled against Haldir for a moment to comfort herself, then added, “And he showed me . . . his right hand. There was a big letter A on his palm.”
Haldir had never known heartbreak. Even watching the last ship of Elves set sail for Valinor, he had felt only a twinge of hurt knowing that he was the only one of his race left (Cirdan had not wanted to leave him, but he had insisted and the elder Elf had finally given up). Now agony shot through his heart as he came to the undeniable conclusion that he had been wrong and the others right.
All evidence supported what they had told him–Dirnees’ pointing out her similarity to the Evil in their dreams, Elladan’s noting how she attracted the worst of her race simply by being within a few dozen feet of them–but he had been too blind to see until Marie removed the veil from his eyes . . .
Krystine was the Evil.
Sorry if any of that Greek/religious stuff is inaccurate. I learned it in school, but it was also long enough ago that I could have forgotten or mixed stuff up. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.