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 will come at the end of each chapter. ( ) signals a footnote.
Chapter 9.) A New Dawn
“I’ve lived to bury my desires,
And see my dreams corrode with rust;
Now all that’s left are fruitless fires
That burn my empty heart to dust.”
– Aleksandr Pushkin
The sun was bursting through the golden leaves of LothLorien, showering everything in a joyful blaze. The light was shining full on Oloriel’s face as she awoke from her peaceful slumber. She lay quietly beneath the warmth of Anar’s rays.
Her dream last night had turned out very differently than she’d expected. She and Elladan had finally had an actual conversation. It seemed that the prince had become fed up with their polite yet distant encounters and was determined to break through the uncertain wall that stood between them. She had not initially welcomed this turn of events, being in a foul mood and not wanting to deal with him, but she had gradually been brought to the realization that it was good to have someone safe to talk to. And who could be more safe then an elf, living hundreds of miles away, who was not a part of her waking life? So she opened up some of her mind to him, and explained some of her troubles. He in turn had spoken of his own worries concerning his sister. In their conversation he had shown himself to be both intelligent and compassionate. She liked his manner, and had been almost sorry to leave when morning called her back to wakefulness.
She yawned and stretched lazily underneath her sheets before rolling to the other side of the bed. She got up and walked a few paces to her wardrobe, where she pulled out a simple green dress. A silvery gray cloak was thrown over this to complete her attire. After dressing she descended from her flet, and set out on a walk. She had decided that a brilliant morning such as this should not be wasted indoors.
She passed by one of the kitchens and pilfered some bread and fruit. She wrapped it up in a small cloth and hid it under her cloak. The city was wide-awake as she made her way to the city walls; she tried to draw as little attention to herself as possible. Her efforts did not prove adequate however.
//Dream daughter, where are you going?//
Oloriel heard the voice of the Lady in her mind. Up ahead she saw the white trailing hem of a dress disappear behind a large mallorn tree.
//Come dream daughter, there are things I would tell you.//
Instinctively she followed the glimpses of white through a maze of trees, and eventually found herself in a large clearing, filled with small flowers. Galadriel sat in the midst of the flowers, weaving them into her hair. The Ladies voice reached out to her softly.
“Come child. Sit with me.”
Oloriel slowly knelt down beside the Lady, anxious to know what she would speak of. She was forced to be patient, however, as the Lady shifted toward her and silently began braiding flowers into her hair as well. Oloriel was not quite sure how to react to this, but eventually she felt her muscles and mind relaxing under the gentle ministrations of the Lady.
“There,” the Lady spoke when she had finished, “You look enchanting. You should wear flowers in your hair more often; they help to soften your somber exterior.”
“I wear what suits me best, I suppose.” Oloriel replied, “Why look like something I’m not?”
The Lady examined her closely, then countered, “And what are you, dream daughter?”
Oloriel sat puzzled for several minutes, then tentatively answered, “I am my Lady’s handmaiden; I am a healer; I am a weaver of song.”
“Is that all?”
“Well yes… I think so… that is what I am.”
The Lady smiled sadly, “But are you not also a daughter, a sister, and a friend? Handmaidens can be replaced; new healers and musicians can be trained; it is only what is in the heart that cannot be forgotten or lost. What fills your heart?”
The eyes of the Lady fell piercingly on Oloriel; she felt very vulnerable under their gaze. She could hear her heart thudding loudly in her ears, and she felt the prickling of tears behind her eyes. Finally she whispered, almost inaudibly, “Nothing.”
“Are you sure?”
Oloriel looked up at the Lady of Light, confusion written on her features. “Would I not know what is in my own heart?”
Galadriel laughed lightly. “Not many people really do, child.”
Oloriel frowned at this and looked away. Galadriel smiled softly to herself, and then, with two slender fingers, gently turned Oloriel’s face back to meet her own.
“Do not let your heart be troubled. You have grieved long, but there is still hope. The light has already begun to seep in again. You are a child of dreams, and your dreams tell the same tale. When you accepted his help your heart began to open and the nightmares receded. Do not push it closed again; do not run back into the darkness. It is very lonely in the dark; do not pretend that it is good to be alone.”
Oloriel’s eyes widened. “Are you saying that I was the cause of my own terror? How could you know of this?”
“I see many things.”
With that Galadriel gracefully stood and walked off into the trees.
Oloriel sat there for several minutes in confusion. `Does she know that it is Elladan? What all does she see?’ She shifted nervously and then felt the small package of food, which she had concealed in her cloak. This brought her back to reality. Her mind was in turmoil, but she decided to carry on with her morning excursion; after all, the woods outside of the city were the best place to think in peace and quiet.
After she left the city gates she slowly found her way to what was becoming one of her favorite haunts. It was the same tree that she had crept into when she was watching for Elladan to ride out from the city over two weeks ago; the one that had hid her so well from his view.
She had gone back to this tree several times since then. She had taken a liking to it, though she was not quite sure why. It was tall and graceful, very old and comforting. Its forbearing branches now held her again. She climbed up high into the tree and its leaves seemed to crowd in and shelter her against all spying eyes.
She unfolded the small bundle that carried her breakfast fare and laid the contents out on the branch in front of her cross-legged form. With relish she bit into a juicy, golden peach, being careful to keep the pulp off of her gown.
As she ate the sun slowly began to lose its morning brilliance, and mellow out into a soft golden glow. Her emotions followed its example: ruffled nerves calming down into a more placid state.
When she was done with breakfast, she let her legs dangle over one side of the branch and let her body mold into the crook of the tree. She sighed contentedly as a small wind blew through the leaves around her. And suddenly it hit her. `I have been here before… in this very same position, in this very tree.’ The feelings that she had experienced then came rushing back over her, as if the tree had absorbed them and held them these many long years, and was now returning them to their rightful owner. This was the tree that had comforted her in her grief, a few days after her father had departed for Valinor. This was the tree in which she had first met Elladan.
She had forgotten it. It had been her favorite tree, but the memory of it faded over the years. But now fate seemed to have brought them back together.
A few days or weeks ago she would have been disturbed at the associations this tree brought to life, but now it brought only a smile to her face. She was glad that she had rediscovered her old friend, and the memories it had stored for her. She began to think about her father. Not about the grief of his passing, but about their life before he had left. She laughed aloud at some of the more joyful images that came to her mind.
Light was beginning to seep in, just as Galadriel had predicted.
She rested her head against the tree and sighed, `Elladan is right. Better to have known love and lost it, then never to have known it at all.’ She smiled wistfully. `But what of Kallindo? What shall I do with him? Would it have been better to never know his friendship than to have the friendship along with the risk of something more?’
Oloriel considered this question for some time. She came to realize that Kallindo’s friendship meant more to her than she had previously realized. He had always been there for her, with a quick smile and a new scheme. He had so much enthusiasm for life, but had never been put off by her apathy. He seemed always to want to share his enthusiasm with her. She began to feel very humbled that he would choose to spend so much time on her. She felt very grateful for his caring heart.
`And yet, being grateful is very different from being in love,’ she concluded with a sigh. `I do love Kallindo… but like a brother.’ She sat for several minutes in uncertainty and then her jaw stiffened with resolution, `After all his faithfulness to me he deserves to know at least that much. It would be unjust for me to push him away simply because I am frightened.’
It was then that it struck her how selfish she had grown to be. For so many years she had been searching for love and acceptance from other people, but had not been willing to love in return. It had been too dangerous in her mind. Better to push people away then to let them come close and possibly hurt her. Better to let her dreams fade then to risk the chance of them being crushed. This is how she had lived for so long, and her dreams had started to reflect her reality. That is what Galadriel had been talking about. She had been pushing people away for so long that her heart was almost empty. It was into this void that the dark thoughts and dreams and flowed. Her dreams told of who she was – a lonely and frightened girl.
“But no more.” She declared aloud, “This is no way to live. I will not be afraid any more,” As she said this, a weight seemed to slip from her. It was as if her heart had awakened from a very long slumber. After so many centuries it was free – free to love again.
She smiled dryly. `That is, if I even remember how.’
Elladan was trying his utmost to concentrate on the text in front of him, but he was not having much luck. Reading in his father’s library was usually a very relaxing activity, but this morning he could not get his mind to focus on the words. The volume of Elven poetry that he held was therefore set aside with a small sigh; it fell open on the table next to him. He leaned back in his chair, hands behind his head, and let his mind wander to the events of the previous night.
In some ways his experiment had been a great success. Not only had he spoken with Oloriel, but he had somehow managed to catch a glimpse of her true self – her worries and thoughts and emotions. He seemed to have been able to break through some of her walls, almost effortlessly. More startling however was the way in which he had returned her candor. He had spoken to her of things that he would not have spoken of with any but his closest friends and family. And seeing as his list of close friends was almost nonexistent, this meant that Oloriel had somehow welcomed herself into a very elite circle. And it had all seemed so natural, so… right. But how could that be? Elladan shook his head slightly. He leaned forward and put his chin in his hands.
Just then his father entered the room; he paused in the doorway. Something was not right with his son.
“What weighs so heavily on your mind?”
Elladan looked up and tried to appear neutral. “Nothing, adar.”
Elrond couldn’t help smiling at the failed attempt of his son to sound casual. “I am your father and I have known you for over three millennia – you cannot lie to me that easily, Elladan.”
Elladan looked confusedly up at his father. Elrond was the one person who could still make him feel like an elf-ling, and he could not long resist the persistence of his questioning gaze. He shifted in his chair uncomfortably. “I do not quite know where to start.”
“Why don’t you start by telling me what you were just thinking of.”
Elladan thought about this for several moments, then spoke. “How is it possible to feel totally at home with someone you hardly know? Can you… is it possible for there to be people… for there to be someone who you were meant to know, and – and right away you feel the connection?”
Elrond slowly walked passed where his son sat, and stood looking out one of the large windows. Eventually he turned and addressed Elladan. “The will of Eru(1) pervades everything. You ask me if it is possible? Yes, it is. But do not let everything rest in the hands of fate. It may push you in the right direction, but it will not take every step for you. If there is someone who brings light to your heart then take joy in it for what it is. The path will become clearer to you as you walk down it.” When he finished speaking he turned back to the window.
Elladan sat still, thinking on what his father had said. The words did not bring any definite answers, but they did help to calm his mind quite a bit. `He speaks wisely. If something about Oloriel makes me feel at ease then does it really matter why?’
Elrond broke into his reverie. Turning from the window with eyes full of sparkling mirth, he asked, “Tell me… is she beautiful?”
Elladan started, then ducked his head. How did his father know that it was a maiden he spoke of? But even though he was confused and a little embarrassed he could not help replying, almost immediately, “Yes. Very.”
His eyes scanned the ground distractedly. They found their way to the book of poetry, lying open on the low table next to him. One line in particular stood out at him.
“Ned aglar he bada, bin elui morn” (2)
Elladan raised his eyebrow and sighed to himself. `Beautiful night-maidens seem to haunt my every turn… how appropriate.’
Elrond noticed his son’s change in demeanor, but decided not to pry further. Quietly he slipped from the room.
Several minutes after his father left, Elladan stirred from his chair. He walked over to the same window that Elrond had looked out of. The sun was taking a firm hold on its upward clime. `Time to put aside my idleness I would say.’
His brother had somehow guilted him into promising to help inspect the security of the southern borders, and he had the vague suspicion that Elrohir would not let him squirm out of the obligation. `He certainly won’t leave without me, and if I hide away up here he’ll just come up with another one of his `creative’ ways to pay me back.’ Elladan grinned sardonically.
With that he turned from the window and headed for the doorway. As he did so his steps faltered. His vision blurred slightly and he heard a small rushing in his ears; then came the gentle sound of a female voice. //But no more. This is no way to live. I will not be afraid any more.// The voice faded and his heart seemed to throb against his rib-cage. He grasped at the doorframe. For a few seconds he stood there stunned and then voiced the one burning thought on his mind.
“Much better, Aiwë! I think you may be getting the hang of this.” Kallindo encouraged her between the clangs of metal on metal.
Oloriel had met with Kallindo that afternoon to practice with the long-knives again. They were each using a pair of blades, Oloriel having given up on the idea of using just one. Kallindo had remonstrated with her, saying that it was necessary to be able to fight well with just one in case circumstances ever made it necessary, but Oloriel chose to be stubborn this day.
“You made me work with only one long-knife on my day off and I ended up with a wounded ego and a scratched neck.” Oloriel pointed to where Kallindo’s blade had rested against her throat. There was a tiny red line there, indicating the truthfulness of her statement. “Now you wouldn’t want to be so cruel as to put a poor little maiden like myself through all that again, would you?” She teased, looking up at him with eyes widened in innocent accusation.
Kallindo paused in his tracks. “Did I really scratch you?” A look of concern crossed his features. But when Oloriel gave him an odd look he quickly reprimanded himself for being so over-protective, and slipped back into the light-hearted fray. Clutching his heart dramatically he inquired, “Did you lose much blood over the affair? Oh how could I have been so heartless? Do you feel strong enough to walk? Here, let me carry you back to your flet to lie down.” With that he scooped her off her feet and began walking back in the opposite direction.
“Kallindo! Kallindo put me down!”
“Ah, but the lady is injured.”
“If you don’t put me down this instant you will be injured in more places than one.” Oloriel threatened.
Kallindo let a grin spread over his face. “As the lady wishes.”
He gently placed her down on her feet, and she spun around quickly, hands on hips.
“In recompense for the indignity suffered because of this last performance, we are most definitely working with two long-knives today.”
Kallindo knew not to mess with that look. “I suppose I brought this upon myself,” he sighed. “Very well, it will be as the lady wishes.”
That is how the afternoon started. They had now been working for over two hours. Both were dusty and a little disheveled, but still enthusiastically ducking, plunging and parrying blows. Oloriel had just managed to extricate herself from a very sticky situation, and it was this move that had prompted Kallindo to praise her improvement.
“Well, I do generally take to sharp, pointy objects rather quickly.” Oloriel called back between blows. She had been having an immensely good time that afternoon. She did not feel uncomfortable around Kallindo, and he seemed to be acting like his normal, friendly self.
Kallindo chuckled as he sidestepped a swipe from Oloriel’s blade. “Speaking of sharp and pointy objects. There is, as I’m sure you are aware, going to be a celebratory feast in seven nights. I hear that there will also be dancing. Would you allow me to escort you?”
Oloriel was startled and fumbled her blades a little as he said this, but recovered in time to keep Kallindo from flicking them out of her hands. “What does that have to do with sharp pointy objects?” she inquired, trying to avoid the question.
Kallindo smirked. “It’s just that I expected you to throw several of them at me when I asked you.”
Oloriel could not help laughing at this. “I suppose that all depends on what your intentions are. Are you asking me because you can’t get any other maiden to attend with you, and I am your last hope? Or is it that you feel sorry for me? Or, even better, is it because you are desperately in love with me?” As she asked this she managed to flick one of Kallindo’s knives out of his hand. For several moments he had to concentrate on parrying her two knives with his one, but finally he responded.
“You are wrong on all counts, my dear Aiwë. I asked you because…”
She nicked his hand, and he lost his last blade.
“… I enjoy your company.”
She stood poised, both knives held up in front of her. “To throw or not to throw?” She raised her eyebrows and smirked at Kallindo, who was attempting to not look nervous. “It’s a very hard decision. The satisfaction of impaling you weighed with the satisfaction of getting dressed up in an uncomfortably grand gown just for the opportunity of being able to have my toes stepped on by dance partners. Hmm…”
“If it’s any consolation,” Kallindo offered, “I have been told that I dance very well, and I promise not to step on your toes.”
“Well now, how could I reject such a grand offer: a dance partner that won’t injure me – what a miracle. No she-elf could resist… Oh very well,” she let her hands fall to her sides, “I will not impale you.”
Kallindo grinned, then turned to pick up his fallen knives. It wasn’t exactly an enthusiastic acceptance, but it was close enough. He raised the knives in a defensive posture, and then, his eyes twinkling with laughter, addressed her. “Shall we dance?”
She smiled and brought her own knives to the ready. Soon the clearing was filled with the sharp impact of flying metal.
1. Eru is the supreme God; he created the Valar
2. This is just a rip-off of Lord Byron’s “She walks in beauty like the night”. * I couldn’t find the Sindarin word for beauty, so I went with aglar= “glory, brilliance”
Names to Know:
Oloriel: “dream daughter”
Kallindo: “noble heart”
Aiwë: (Kallindo’s nickname for Oloriel) “small bird”
Olórë Mallë: Path of Dreams
*~*Oh please, oh please, oh please review… I get my kicks from reviews! It’s like waking up in the morning to breakfast in bed, like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of your winter coat that you haven’t worn for a year, like diving into a pool when it’s ninety degrees out and you just finished mowing the lawn… I need, I need! ; )