As soon as Lauren was out of sight of the doorway, she began to run. Would there have been elves in the corridors, they would have stared at her uncourtly manner. Luckily they were all preoccupied with the afternoon meal, leaving the corridors of Imladris empty.
She ran through the hallways, not caring where she went, as long as it took her away from this freezing cold. It had been growing in her since her soul had reconnected with her body, after she had called Elphir back. Now it was at the point that she felt as though it was starting to attack her soul, trying to freeze it and rip it away from her. Her realization of this fact only caused her to run faster. And so she ran.
She could not think, the pain in her soul seemed to have stopped her brain from working properly. All she could do was run, a futile effort to shake loose the hold of that icy hand. Yet, it ever tightened around her, tormenting her. As she continued to run, her vision blurred, as though her eyes were beginning to freeze, loosing their ability to register the sights of the world. And thus she ran blindly into the gardens of Elrond. She was finally stopped by root sticking up from the ground, which her now sightless eyes, had missed.
As she hit the ground, she finally retained her ability to think. She had to try and do something, and running was not the answer. The warmth of the sun and the elven magic began to clear her head, melting away her fear and returning her vision. For a moment, she felt her soul pass back to the land of shadow, but she quickly realized what was happening and forced herself back, feeling a new and more powerful wave of the cold of that land chill her soul.
Now that she had stopped running, she realized that her stomach and shoulder were burning. She examined them and found wide gashes across each of these sections of her body. Though they were obviously open wounds, no blood was spilling from them. As she was puzzling over this, the cold in her soul intensified, causing her to gasp out in pain. With the sudden increase of pain, an impenetrable darkness came over her, and a maniacal laughter played inside her head. It was as though she’d blacked out, and all she could sense was the sound of that evil laughter, pulling her in, towards it. Just as suddenly as the darkness had come, there came a thought to Lauren; to resist. She must resist this evil and prevail. With the determination came another spasm of freezing cold, causing her to cry out again. This time her cry carried the words, “Heca nyello, saura rauco!” She was surprised to hear those words from her mouth, as they were in a language she did not know. She was even more surprised at their effect, for the voice disappeared, as did the cold and darkness. She found herself back in the gardens, with no trace of the darkness or the laughter.
As she moved to stand up, her shoulder and stomach throbbed, reminding her of their present condition. She looked at her shoulder and found that the gash was healing before her eyes, in a few seconds there was nothing left of it, and the pain subsided. She checked her stomach and witnessed the same procedure.
She began to wonder at this, but was interrupted by the sound of the soft footfalls on the path coming towards her. Forgetting for a moment where she was, she immediately started looking around for a weapon, fearing that the source of the evil laughter was coming for her once again. Just as she was about to grab a branch to swing at the oncoming opponent, he emerged from behind the bend in the path. Lauren let out a sigh of relief when she saw that it was only Thialfir.
<< “Lauren! I’ve been looking for you everywhere! Elladan and Elrohir-“ >>
, started Thialfir, but stopped when Lauren covered the distance between them and met him with a hug. Awkwardly, he hugged her back, noticing for the first time her slender figure, the slight waviness of her shoulder-length dark brown hair, and the soft glow that seemed to emanate from her eyes. He felt a diminishing evil presence surrounding her, seeking her for some unknown means. He tightened his embrace around her at the thought.
Lauren did not know why she had been so rash, or how she had ended up where she was. All she knew was that she needed somebody right now, somebody to turn to for comfort. She was surprised at how safe she felt now, in Thialfir’s arms. She felt the remnants of the ache in her soul ebb away, replaced by a sense of peace. She now noticed Thialfir’s tuned muscles, his soft features, and his deep, caring eyes. She held on for a few moments more, not wanting her sense of safety to evaporate, then, slowly pulled away from him.
<< Are you alright?” >>
Thialfir asked softly.
<< “I am now. I apologize, I didn’t mean to impose on you-” >>
she started to explain, but Thialfir gently put his finger to her lips.
<< “Don’t worry. Now, as I was saying, Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond, have returned and wish to speak with you. I of course, have been recruited as their messenger, as I know you best,” he smiled, “Come with me and I’ll show you to them.” >>
With that, Lauren followed Thialfir out of the gardens, expecting the freezing sensation to return, and was thoroughly relieved when it didn’t. Thialfir noted the tension, then relief on her face, and pondered at it, but said nothing. Finally, they arrived at an oaken door at the end of beautifully carved marble hallway.
<< “They said they wanted to see you privately, so I’ll leave you here, their rooms are just beyond the door,” Thialfir told Lauren, then deciding on trying a bit of apprehensive sarcasm, added, “I trust you can find your way?” >>
Lauren, having recovered quite nicely from her ordeal, immediately picked up on his hint and replied sarcastically,
<< “But the door is two steps away, however will I manage?” >>
then rolled her eyes and gave a slight shove to Thialfir, to inform him that she was alright and knocked on the door, flashing him a smile as he retreated down the hallway.