Things you need to know about this story…
1.) Elven dreams are very realistic
2.) Elves shouldn’t normally meet *real* people along the Olórë Mallë (Path of Dreams)… but something happens in this story that is not normal
Sorry this took so long! I was gone for five days… it wasn’t my fault!… btw, I finally got around to responding to reviewers for the last chapter. You can find my responses in the comments section of that chapter. = )
Names/Pronunciations and any Translation will come at the end of each chapter. ( ) signals a footnote.
Chapter 8.) Night Light
“Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”
– William Butler Yeats
Oloriel looked up from the tome she was reading when her delicate ears picked up the sound of hurried footsteps approaching. She had been scouring through a volume of herb lore, refreshing herself on the medicinal properties of various plants. As she looked up she suddenly realized how long she had been sitting there. By the look of things it was early evening.
“There you are!” exclaimed Kallindo enthusiastically, as he came in through the doorway with a bundle under his arm. “I should have known I’d find you inside crouched over another one of your dusty books. What you need is some fresh air.”
Oloriel raised a delicate eyebrow in his direction. “And I suppose you came ready with a plan whereby I might procure some of that fresh air.”
Kallindo grinned at her then grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the room.
Oloriel did not like the familiarity of the touch. Írima’s insinuation about the possibility that Kallindo might have feelings for her had made Oloriel increasingly apprehensive. She gently pulled on her hand; Kallindo took the hint and released it from his grasp.
“And what, pray tell, are we going to be doing this afternoon?” Oloriel questioned.
“I am going to teach you how to use a long-knives.”
“But, Kallindo, this is not our day for practicing. I should still be studying.”
“Oh nonsense, your mind should rest. And besides,” he continued, gesturing to the bundle under his arm, “the new set of blades that I have had made for you were just finished this morning; I couldn’t wait to see what you thought of them.”
“You had a new set made for me – whatever for? We don’t even know if I shall ever master them.” Oloriel was trying not to sound too displeased, but she couldn’t help feeling that Kallindo was acting rashly.
“Do not worry – you shall master them. You couldn’t help it with me as your teacher.” Kallindo replied with an exaggeratedly smug look on his face.
Oloriel just rolled her eyes at him.
When they came to the practice grounds Kallindo unrolled the cloth bundle. Inside were two exquisitely crafted, elven long-knives in matching sheathes. Oloriel caught her breath slightly. The mithril blades were intricately etched with scrollwork and elven runes, and at the base of each there was a gleaming star. The handgrips were made of a black wood, with inlayed silver designs. At the center of each hand guard was set a gleaming emerald.
“These are far too grand for me, Kallindo.” Oloriel protested. But she could not sway him, he was determined to see her hold and wield them.
Oloriel did not know what to do. She felt that, if she protested too much, she would hurt Kallindo. He had obviously put much thought into the gift – the knives were designed specifically for her, being of the perfect length and weight. But she also was still wary of him. Would he go to this much trouble if he just thought of her as a friend? She did not know. And so, with reluctance she accepted the blades.
Oloriel sighed in frustration. Kallindo had, yet again, flicked the long-knife out of her hand and pinned her against the base of a tree, his own long-knife to her throat.
Oloriel did not particularly like using long-knives, or at least she did not like using only one of them. Kallindo had insisted that it was easier to begin with one, but she did not like how small it was compared to a long-sword, and she felt very vulnerable when it was her only weapon. But she felt even less vulnerable without it. It had been several moments since Kallindo had pinned her against the tree, but he still held her there. Her lungs were begging for more air, but the sharp tip against her throat made shallow breathing the only option. Kallindo just stared at her, apparently unaware of his surroundings. There was a strange, unreadable look in his eyes.
“Kallindo,” she finally managed to speak between gulps for air, “You have won.”
Kallindo blinked a few times, but did not show any other signs of awareness.
“Kallindo,” she gasped more urgently, “It is hard to breathe.”
This seemed to produce a better reaction. His eyes melted quickly with concern and he let his hand drop to his side. He shook his head as if to clear it.
“I am sorry Aiwë, I… I do not know what is the matter with me.”
Oloriel was wondering the same thing, but she didn’t say as much. Instead she muttered, “Perhaps you have had a little too much fresh air.”
Kallindo chuckled. “Yes, perhaps you are right. I think we are done for the day. Shall I escort you home?”
Oloriel would rather he didn’t, but she couldn’t think up any good excuse why not, so she agreed. However, she did not take his proffered arm.
Kallindo knew that he was acting foolishly. For some reason his stubborn heart would not listen to wisdom. Perhaps he was not in love, but there was certainly a growing attraction in him toward Oloriel. And, instead of listening to his head and trying to stifle it, he was taking every opportunity of spending time with her. He visited her at the Houses of Healing, he dropped into Írima and Nimfallë’s home whenever he knew she would be there, he went beyond the call of duty in his training of her. And as far as he could tell, none of it was helping. Oloriel still treated him as she always had – a casual friend and nothing more. And after that evening’s performance, he couldn’t totally blame her.
When he had pinned her up against the tree he was only about two feet away from her. Something about her then had entranced him. He had her in a position where he was free to examine her close-up. Her green eyes were bright with exercise, her skin held a brilliant glow, and he had to admit that the increased rise and fall of her chest as she gulped for air did not go unnoticed. She was beautiful, and all he could do was take her in with his eyes. If Oloriel had not said something they might still be standing there.
`You’re going to scare her off,’ he thought reprovingly to himself, `You can’t let her know – not yet.’
He was now watching her walk briskly a few steps ahead of him. They had been silent since they left the training grounds, and he was not sure what he could say to break the silence. He was not even sure if he should break the silence. `At least if I don’t speak I can’t say anything regrettable.’ And yet, how long would he remain silent? How long would he wait for her to cast an eye his way? Perhaps waiting was not the best strategy. He sighed softly. He didn’t know the answer.
They had reached the bottom of Oloriel’s flet while he was musing, and she had now turned to him to say goodnight.
“Thank you for the `fresh air’, Kallindo,” Oloriel said by way of parting words.
As she turned to climb up, Kallindo acted on an impulsive thought. He touched her arm lightly, and when she turned her face back to him he reached up and tucked a loose hair behind her ear, brushing her cheek with his fingers as he did so. “Sweet dreams, Aiwë.”
Before she could respond he had turned and walked quickly away.
Since approaching Oloriel in the dreamscape over two weeks ago, Elladan’s mind had rested much more peacefully. It felt like a cloud had been lifted from his spirits. He no longer felt uncomfortable in his dreams, and was therefore a much more amiable travelling companion for his brother in the daytime.
The change in him did not go unnoticed by Elrohir. They were still half a day away from Rivendell when he insisted on knowing what had produced this beneficial affect in his brother. Elladan told the tale… most of it. Elrohir still did not know what had made Elladan turn back as they rode out from Caras Galadhon.
“So green-eyes didn’t bite your head off after all?” Elrohir remarked with a slight chuckle after the tale was finished. “And to think you could have resolved all this two months ago and saved me from having to endure your foul mood. Tell me, have you talked much with her since?”
“We have exchanged a few words – general pleasantries and such – but nothing beyond that. She knows that I am journeying back to Rivendell, and since my time for sleep is cut short by the need for keeping watch, I think she generally tries to let me rest while I can, and not disturb me. I would like to get to know her better, to perhaps learn more about why this is happening to us, but I’m not quite sure how to broach the subject.”
“Haven’t you learned your lesson yet, brother? What happened to the bold warrior I know? I do believe that you are more frightened of this maiden than you would be of a pack of wargs.” Elrohir grinned at his brother and shook his head.
Elladan rolled his eyes. “This is not war, Elrohir, it is diplomacy – two very different things. I don’t want to use the girl for target practice; I want to talk to her. I know that you haven’t had much experience with merely talking to a girl – you usually just sweep them off their feet – but if you try very hard I think you will be able to grasp the concept.”
Elrohir couldn’t help laughing at his brother’s dry wit. “True, brother, very true. So you want to talk to her? Why don’t you simply tell her what you told me – that you want to understand what is going on, and that you would like to get to know her?”
Elladan sighed. “Well, that would be the simple way I suppose. But you know me – I always make things more complicated than they need to be.”
Elladan and Elrohir were welcomed home to Rivendell with open arms. They spent the evening in the great banquet room, at a celebration for their safe return. The Fellowship had left on their quest a few days before, and so there was a slight damper on the night’s merriment. But it was only a slight one. There was still feasting and dancing and singing. Elrohir somehow goaded his brother into dancing with several of the unattached maidens. To his surprise, Elladan did not find the experience to be unpleasant. But still, without question, his favorite partner of the night was his very own sister. As they were spinning around the dance floor together, the siblings had a chance to fill each other in on the past few weeks apart…
“And so I was right again!” crowed Arwen in delight.
Elladan groaned, but could not help smiling down at his sister. “Yes, you were right; she was no longer angry with me. But even though we are on speaking terms now, we have not spoken much. I hardly know what to say. Things are so very strange between us.”
“It certainly is an unusual situation,” Arwen mused.
“And you do not even know all of it.”
Arwen looked up puzzled.
“There is more to the story, which I have yet to tell even Elrohir.” Elladan went on to explain to Arwen the connection that seemed to exist between himself and Oloriel, which allowed them to sense each other’s presence.
When he had completed his narrative Arwen was silent for a few moments; then she spoke. “I am utterly baffled. Perhaps you should speak to father about all of this.”
“Yes, Perhaps. But not yet.”
As the song that they had been dancing to came to an end, another one began. Elladan raised a questioning eyebrow at his sister, and she assented with a slight nod of her head. They began to move to the swaying melody of the new song. For several moments they did not speak, but Elladan finally broke the silence.
“And what of you, sister? How has your life been since I was away? Surely you have faced some difficulties.”
Arwen shrugged. She knew what he was referring to, but she chose to ignore the implications. “Well, I did have a horrendous time re-cataloging some of the books in father’s library. You would think that after so many millennia of existence he would have learned better organizational skills.” She chuckled impishly.
But he did not let her off so easily. He smiled fondly down at her. “You still make time to take care of father with all your worries. I do believe, sister, that you are the bravest woman I know.” Elladan leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Arwen’s forehead.
Arwen smiled shakily. “I am not so brave.”
“Ah, but you are… You miss him don’t you?” He replied simply.
A slight shadow passed over Arwen’s eyes. She ducked her head down and rested it on Elladan’s shoulder. He held her a little more closely as they danced to the music.
“Yes – you are the bravest woman I know. So many times you have had to say good-bye to him, but you keep on shining. You are truly the Evenstar. I don’t know how you bear it.”
Arwen sighed into Elladan’s tunic. “I bear it because I know he loves me. That is what really matters. When I know that he is alive in the world and loving me then it is not so hard to be brave.” She raised her head and looked steadily at her brother. Her eyes held unshed tears, but the moisture only made them flash more brilliantly in the candlelight. Elladan smiled sympathetically. The music came softly to an end, and with one last twirl the siblings came to a gentle standstill. Elladan squeezed her hand gently. “May the Valar grant me such a love.” He kissed her on the cheek and then retired to his room.
That night he went to sleep with many emotions. He had been thinking and pondering about many things, but mostly about his sister. He began to think over their many conversations together. He was reminded of their time up on his balcony, soon after he had returned from the north over two months ago. She had said that time was precious. She had been right again. He decided that he had wasted to many nights already. If the Valar had chosen this girl to share his dreams then there must be a reason, and he would find out what it was. He would talk to her… tonight.
Oloriel flopped down on her bed with a frustrated sigh. She had been pacing her room for quite some time now. She was thoroughly distressed over Kallindo’s behavior. More and more she became convinced that Írima was right. But she wished that she wasn’t.
`How could he do this to me! I cannot give him what he wants. I do not want it this way. I never did!’ She turned over and groaned into her pillow.
`Kallindo has always only been a friend. He’s not allowed to fall in love with me, because I can’t afford to fall in love with anyone!’ She pounded on her pillow.
`Why is my life so complicated!’ She threw her pillow against the wall.
All in all, her pillow was not having a very good time of it.
She pulled the blankets over her head and tried to rest. It eluded her for quite some time, but eventually sleep did find her…
As she entered her dream she found herself in a large room. It was very open, with windows and balconies leading off from it, marking itself of elven design. There were carved vines trailing up the walls, and plush, elegant furnishings. She strolled out onto one of the balconies, which over-looked a quite forest. Everything was calm and quiet – it soothed her raw nerves and emotions. After several minutes she heard a stirring in the room behind her. `Elladan,’ she thought. `The last thing I need right now is another male elf. Hopefully he will leave me alone.’ She did not get her wish. She heard him pushing aside the curtains that covered the doorway behind her.
“Elladan, please… I do not wish for conversation right now.”
He stepped through the curtains despite her plea. “As much as I would like to honor your wishes, I cannot put off what I have to say.” He continued forward, but she held up her hand and suddenly he was rendered immobile. Elladan tried to force is legs forward but they were held in place. “I cannot move.”
Oloriel turned toward him. “Well yes, this is my dream.” Elladan looked at her confused. “I am always the one who is left behind when you awaken; it was my storm that you first entered into; they are all my dreams. And if I say you cannot move… then you cannot move.”
Elladan’s brows in consternation. “That is hardly fair.”
“I don’t really care right now.” Oloriel admitted. They stared at each other defiantly for several minutes. Finally, Oloriel spoke. “I have many things on my mind at present. I need to think and I would appreciate it if I could be left alone to do so.” With that she began to walk passed him back into the room.
Elladan sighed, “Thinking seems to be your favorite excuse for getting rid of people.” Oloriel paused in her tracks. He continued, “Did it ever occur to you that two heads might be better than one? If we are going to be forced to share our dreams then we might as well put it to good purpose. Tell me what it is that troubles you – perhaps I can help.”
This was not the response Oloriel was expecting. Her mind went blank and she could not come up with any sharp replies. She opened and closed her mouth nervously several times and then spoke. “Oh very well.” She lifted her hand and the invisible barrier that surrounded Elladan disappeared. She went back to stand at the balcony railing. He came and stood next to her.
“Why are people so confusing and infuriating?” she asked petulantly.
Elladan raised an eyebrow and looked rather amused. Turning his head slightly toward her, he asked, “Anyone in particular, or just people in general?”
She sighed. Looking around furtively she replied, “If you must know, someone is falling in love with me and I don’t want him to fall in love with me and I don’t know how to avert the disaster.”
Elladan was silent for several moments. “You seem very sure that you do not want his love. Is he that offensive?”
“Well, no. He is my friend. But I don’t want anyone falling in love with me.”
Oloriel stiffened, “I don’t think you need to know that.”
“Yes I do. I am trying to make you out.”
“And why is that necessary?”
“Because, perhaps you are part of your own problem. If you merely wanted to save this friend from pain or were offended by his affections then you could simply tell him so… and you also would not have looked frightened when you spoke of it. Why are you afraid of being loved?”
“I… I suppose… I suppose it is because I do not want anyone to persuade me into loving them back.” Oloriel’s hands gripped the railing tightly; her eyes were focused straight ahead. `Why am I telling him this?’ she wondered frantically. However, her lips kept moving of their own accord. “I do not want to love anyone because I do not want to need anyone. I stand alone – that is all.”
“But you are not alone. What of your brother, Karnélas?”
Oloriel cringed like she had been struck. Elladan caught her arm gently to steady her. Oloriel did not meet his eyes, but she slowly whispered back, “Karnélas is… he’s dead.”
Elladan groaned softly. “Your mother, your father, and your brother… I think I see now.” He gently pulled her into his arms. She resisted him at first, but he held her there firmly, and soon she rested in his embrace.
“How long has it been?” he whispered softly.
She shuddered slightly and he tightened his hold on her. “He passed into the Halls of Mandos(1) only a century after my father departed into the West… They all left me. I needed them – I loved them – but I couldn’t make them stay. They all left me.”
Elladan just held her for several minutes. Then he slowly released her. He took her two hands and kept her facing toward him. He made sure that she was looking at him before he spoke.
“My mother went into the West a few years before your father did, so I can understand at least some of your pain, though certainly not all of it. But even worse for me is the fact that my sister has chosen to bind herself to a man and give up her immortality – she will die someday. My heart aches every time I look at her, knowing that she will not always be with me, but when I look at her I also see more joy and radiance then I have ever seen before. Her light makes all around her happy, and I am glad that I can, for a few more precious years, bask in that light. My love for her will cause me pain, but I would not change it for anything, because without that love my life would be full of shadows. You can survive without love, but I don’t think you can truly live without it. Knowing the love of a father and a brother, for however short a time, is much better than never knowing it at all. I do not know this man who is falling in love with you, but I beg you to consider my words: spurn him because he is just a friend, or spurn him because he is an enemy, but do not spurn him because you are afraid.”
Oloriel just stared at him; then she gently squeezed his hands and let them go. She walked slowly back into the room. Despite it’s openness, the contrast between the light of the outside and the shadow of the inside made it necessary for her to wait as her eyes adjusted to the new environment. She turned back and squinted slightly to see Elladan, standing in the brilliant, warm sun.
She sighed, then shook her head slightly. “Tread carefully my lord; if I find that your wisdom is unsound I will haunt your dreams forever.” She gave him a dry smile, and then, for the first time in too many centuries, stepped back into the light.
1. Place of the after-life. Mandos is one of the Valar.
Names to Know:
Oloriel: “dream daughter”
Kallindo: “noble heart”
Írima: “lovely, desirable”
Aiwë: (Kallindo’s nickname for Oloriel) “small bird”
Nimfallë: “white foam”
Karnélas: “red leaf”
Olórë Mallë: Path of Dreams
A/N: Don’t you all just love the angst! Hehehe… I can’t get enough of it. ; ) Thank you all my faithful reviewers – every time I get a good review it makes my day… keep `em coming! = )