Elrond sat down beside her and introduced himself. “I am Elrond, Lord of Rivendell.” He proceeded to put a hand to her forehead. “I see your fever has subsided. How do you feel?”
“Pretty good except for my back,” she replied, feeling somewhat awed that she was talking to a person who’s only supposed to exist in a book.
“Indeed that will take more time to heal. I have never seen burns as severe as yours. What is your name child?”
“I’m Lauren,” she paused then decided to ask the question that was troubling her the most at the moment, “Uh, could you tell me how exactly I got here?” she asked.
“Legolas and Thialfir found you beside the river Anduin, about a day’s journey from here. You were burning with fever and covered with burns, the most severe on your back. They brought you back here, to Rivendell, where I have tended to you. I must admit, everyone was worried, it looked as though you’d never wake.”
A look of shock came across Lauren’s face. “How long have I been here?”
“A little over two weeks. I would say your back needs about one more week until you are able to use it properly. May I ask how you came by your burns? I have never seen this much tissue damage concentrated in one area.”
“I wish I could tell you. All I remember is going to bed at home and waking up here.”
Elrond nodded, “Strange. After you’ve recovered, I could arrange for an escort to take you back to your home. Your family must be worried about you. If you wish I could send a message to them, insuring them of your safety,” he offered
This thought threatened to bring tears to Lauren’s eyes. What had become of her family? If she had gotten burned what ails did they have to suffer? Had they been thrown into this world as well or perhaps into another one? These questions filled her with a wave of homesickness.
“Lauren? Are you alright?” came Elrond’s voice filled with concern as he saw a shadow creep over her face.
“I don’t think I can get back to where I came from,” her voice shook from the effort it took to keep from crying.
Elrond looked puzzled. “What do you mean, lady?”
Lauren forced herself to concentrate on how she could explain it to him. She felt she owed it to him to at least try. After all, he had looked after her for weeks. “I’m not from Middle Earth,” she said, finally, “I’m from a planet called Earth, which is probably in a different dimension, or world or on the other side of the universe.”
Elrond looked at the girl. She was young with a fair face. Had he not seen the look in her eyes before he would not have believed her, but there was something there that told him that she was telling the truth. Indeed he had pondered many things about her during the weeks in which he tried to bring her fever down. She did seem somehow different from the women he had met. He was filled with pity for the girl, she knew no one and had no place to go. “Then indeed I cannot help you return to your home. If you wish, you may stay here as part of my household,” he found himself saying.
“Are you sure? Wouldn’t I be in the way?” she asked, conscious of what an honour he was bestowing upon her.
“Of course not. There are barely any youth in Rivendell, and most of them are just passing through or here for visits, such as Legolas and Thialfir. ” Then he added to himself `And Arwen, my dear daughter. What have you gotten yourself into? To forsake your birthright…’
“Legolas and Thialfir?” she asked, unknowingly interrupting his thoughts. Although she knew Legolas from reading the Lord of the Rings, she didn’t remember reading of anyone named Thialfir. She thought it best to ask both, if she didn’t then that would lead her to try and find a way of explaining that this world existed in a book, which would take too long, be too complicated and he’d probably end up not believing her anyway. It was a miracle that he believed her when she had told him that she was from a different planet.
“Legolas is the prince of the Elves of the Woodland Realm, and Thialfir is the prince of the Sea Elves. Now, will you stay with us, for a while at least?”
“I’d be honoured to,” she replied with a smile.
“Wonderful. I’ll have someone bring up some food for you. You are in need of nourishment after being unconscious for such a lengthy period of time and I doubt that your back will allow you much movement. I must go now, the council has need of me. Good day.” With that, he departed, wearing a smile on his face. He finally had somebody who needed him, even if it was just until she recovered, he had not felt needed for so long…
After he had left, Lauren thought over her situation. She was in a world she vaguely knew, far away from anyone she knew and with a burnt back, which she didn’t know how she had acquired. Things weren’t all bad, she did have a place stay, though she felt somewhat guilty at not having anything to give Elrond in return. She felt as though he had sort of adopted her, he had said `you may stay here as part of my household’, that’s what that meant, didn’t it? She decided she needn’t worry for the moment. She felt exhausted, apparently she hadn’t fully recovered from her fever. She debated taking a shower and getting dressed, but her attention was drawn to a more urgent need. Where did the elves keep their toilets? She got up, and found that if she moved very slowly, she was able to walk without pain. She soon discovered that the other door in the hospital lead to a private bathroom, which she took full advantage of. After feeling thoroughly cleansed, she noticed a wardrobe in the corner of the hospital room. She made her way towards it as she realized that her nightgown was gone from the hook she had placed it on before stepping into the shower. She reached in and pulled out a comfortable looking pair of pants and a shirt. At first she wasn’t sure if they were for men or women, but closer inspection revealed them to be for women, so she pulled them on, being careful of her burnt back. She was halfway to her bed when she heard a knock on the door. Being only paces from it she opened it herself to reveal a tall brown haired elf with welcoming deep brown eyes, carrying a food tray.
“Would you care for some breakfast?” he asked, eyes dancing.
“Yes thank you,” she replied and stepped aside letting him in.
He put the tray down and introduced himself. “I’m Thialfir, your humble servant,” he said the last bit with a huge grin and an over exaggerated bow, which looked a bit odd on him, since he was dressed in the manner of an Elven prince.
“Since when do princes double as servants?” she asked, amused.
“Good question. I’d say since they want to meet a new guest but don’t want to intrude on her,” he answered, the smile never leaving his face, though his eyes looked her over, noting her dark brown hair and bright brown eyes to match. “Now, lady, would you answer a question that has been foremost in my mind for these past few weeks?” he asked.
“Depends on the question.”
“The question is: What is your name?”
Lauren almost laughed at the simplicity of the question, and that he had asked her permission to ask it. “Lauren,” she replied.
” Hmm, Lauren, `tis a nice name, but I have one that would suit you better,” he said thoughtfully after a moments pause.
“And what could be better than the name I have borne all my life?” she asked with a hint of sarcasm.
“Aulauran?” he suggested innocently.
A shocked Lauren stared back at him. “How did you come by that name?”
“‘Tis only the elven equivalent of your name,” he replied, “You seem to recognize it,” he observed with a curious look on his face prompting her to explain.
She looked down, somewhat embarrassed that he’d caught her expression, but offered an explanation anyway. “That was the name I made up for myself when I was little.”
“How interesting, I don’t suppose you know Elvish?” he mused.
She shook her head. “But I could learn,” she added hopefully.
He looked thoughtful than noticed the untouched food tray. “Elrond told me you needed to eat, don’t let me keep you. I wouldn’t want you to loose what strength you have regained on my attempt at conversation,” he told her now a look of seriousness crossing his face.
She nodded and started walking slowly to the table, trying not to aggravate her back. She caught Thialfir’s curious looks. “Well you’d be walking funny too if all of your back was burnt,” she remarked defensively.
“Excuse me, I’ve forgotten your crippled,” he teased.
“Want to join the club?” she asked as she aimed a punch his way, still several feet away from him.
“I’d love to, but I have other duties to perform,” he explained with a mock air of importance and sarcasm, while he headed for the door, “I must be off.”
“Sure, and leave a poor cripple to eat by herself,” she faked a hurt tone.
He smiled, before Lauren, he had not met a woman who had picked up this game so fast. Come to think of it, it had taken most a month or more before they dared to tease him back, well, the few that did. He faked a sigh “Well, if one will accuse me of mistreating a cripple, then I may stay awhile yet.”
“Good, cripples hate to eat alone,” she said, smiling at having the company. While she ate, she prompted him to talk about the sea elves, what he was doing in Rivendell and encouraged anything that came to his mind. When she finished, he took the tray and with a farewell, left her to her fake “how dare you leave a poor cripple” look at which he laughed heartedly and closed the door.
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.