…long under tree
In joy thou hast lived, beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore
Thy heart will then rest in the forest no more.
-Galdriel, The Two Towers
Chapter One: A Violent Revelation
The white-capped waves were washing onto the shore, crashing against the rocks. She moved closer. The woman’s cool breath upon her brow was as a gentle sea breeze. Lirulin was comforted by the woman’s presence, and she would do anything to hear her speak her name. I ‘welu morn, the woman whispered slowly. Aphado i annûn. Lirulin felt intoxicated by her words. What was so compelling about them? Suddenly, the woman disappeared. The sea in front of her vanished, and the sound of breaking waves fell silent. Run, you fool, run! She was engulfed in shadows. She fell into a hopelessly black and seemingly endless pit. And though she was falling a great distance, no wind rushed past her ears. She became part of the great shadow, becoming naught, everything dissipated into nothing. She was becoming oblivion…
Nothing was happening. She was alone. The stifling summer air was tranquil and uninterrupted by even the song of a morning bird. Lirulin had left the terrace doors open to let in any midsummer breeze that might venture into the night. The heavy trees of Rhovanion’s great forest rarely let anything past them, however, including the wind. She looked from her bed out into the starry blackness of the sky. She half expected to hear the crash of waves upon the rocks; but Mirkwood lay many leagues from the Sea.
That dream. She had been having the same one every night for an entire month. The same woman in the same garb every time. She had the most brilliant hair, flowing well past her shoulders, like a waterfall of pale gold. A white nimbus surrounded her, accentuating her stunning blue eyes and giving them an even darker shade. Ai! Her eyes were of a dark blue that rivaled even the depths of Ulmo’s great seas! They seemed familiar somehow, but Lirulin could not quite put her finger on it. It was as if she had seen them before, but not belonging to this strange dream-woman… Either way, the dawn was close at hand and the scouting party would be heading off soon.
Ever since she had been very young, Lirulin had always bid her foster-brother farewell as he left the Woodland realm on scouting parties, and greetings as he returned. She would stand with her father, along with many other inhabitants of the kingdom, and wish the company good fortune as it departed Mirkwood. Now and again the band would return with their numbers lessened, either greatly (somewhere between ten and thirty), or scarcely (between one and five). But no matter the outcome, Lirulin could always be found standing alongside her uncle and foster-father, King Thranduil of the Woodland Realm.
Thranduil was Lirulin’s mother’s brother. After Armithlas had passed into the Halls of Mandos, Lirulin was taken in immediately by him. He adopted her as quickly as was allowed and he became her foster-father as well as her uncle. She had taken an especial disliking of her foster-brother and cousin, Legolas. He was always poking fun of her, even when she spoke no words to him. Lirulin only attended the departures and arrivals of the scouting party to see Maeglas on his way.
Lirulin smiled as she thought about the tall, handsome elf-rider. By their first meeting, she had been residing in Tranduil’s immense dwellings for many years and was content to stay there for many more. She had only passed Maeglas in one of the long corridors, he was walking one way and she the opposite. Their eyes met for a split-second only as they passed each other, but that fraction of a second seemed to last forever; indeed Lirulin wished shortly thereafter that it had lasted forever. After that brief meeting in the hall, she took every chance she had to search for her stranger; but to no avail. She inquired about him and sought him out, but without a name she could obtain no information. She resolved to learn the name of this elusive elf…
“Ai!” Lirulin had drifted out to her balcony and was now watching with a kind of sadness as the sun rose in its pale magnificence. Her beloved was leaving her once more. An anxious shadow would then slowly encroach upon her mind and not subside until he was back in Mirkwood and in her arms.
Swiftly, yet reluctantly, Lirulin cleansed herself and pulled on a lithe dress made of a sheer material that was the color of a shadow underneath a willow. The dark green of the tunic usually made her wonder at its beauty, but this morning she found that it only succeeded in saddening her even further. What was this great misery that hovered over her like a bleak rain cloud?
She shoved the thoughts into a dank corner of her mind, the corner where you would put things that you want to forget but know you cannot, and stepped in front of the mirror to inspect her appearance. Normally, a quick glance up and down would suffice, for Lirulin was not one to stand longingly in front of a mirror wishing the body of another was her own; but on this day, something caught her attention a little more violently than she would have liked. Lirulin was rather taken aback that she had not noticed this resemblance much sooner than now, even despite not being of a mind to stand in front of mirrors for hours. This revelation was rather shocking.
From the mirror, Lirulin found the eyes of the dream-woman staring back at her. The eyes were her own, yet her eyes were the woman’s as well. How could she have not noticed this before? She backed away from the mirror in bewilderment, as if the stranger would step from the glass and into the very room! She felt compelled to smash the mirror into millions of miniscule pieces, but her arms would not move. All she could do was stare dumbfounded at her own reflection.
There came a gentle knock at her door. Lirulin collapsed on her bed and beckoned the one who had knocked to enter. It was Thranduil, coming to tell her to prapare herself for the party’s departure. But at seeing the bleak expression on his daughter’s face as he popped his head into the room, his disposition changed. He rushed over to her, concern etched on his features.
“What blackness shrouds your heart, my daughter?” he questioned, putting a comforting arm around her.
Lirulin was reluctant at first to reveal anything to her father, but at long last she decided to tell him everything. “There is something that has been growing on my mind.”
“You know you can tell me anything, Lirulin,” Thranduil replied softly.
“I know this, it’s just-” she paused, not entirely sure how she would explain it to him. She sighed and continued. “It’s just that I can place a certain amount of importance on a matter, but when I end up saying it aloud it seems irrelevant, somehow… inconsequential.”
“Nothing you place improtance on could ever be inconsequential to me,” Thranduil replied warmly, a tender smile on his face.
Lirulin looked up at her father and returned his smile. She then continued, rather hesitantly at first, to explain her dream to him. She revealed that she had been having the same one for nearly an entire month, and that it had always ended the same way. She would be standing on a bank of sand that rose from a forest and looked out at the sea. It was always at twilight, which made the waves look like black silk crashing against a shapeless gray mass. Then the woman clad in white would appear on the shore below her. A strange light would be upon the woman, making it impossible for Lirulin to make out the specific details of her face. The woman would stare up at her, and the only thing that would be clear from the brilliant radiance were her midnight eyes.
“Her eyes are of the most deep shade of blue I have ever seen,” Lirulin said in amazement. “They are… They are like the deepest depths of the sea, darker than midnight as the Moon wanes.”
Thranduil nodded slowly, a look of concentration on his face. Lirulin knew that he was just trying to hide the awful stench of uneasiness that reeked from every pore of his body; but she continued on. She would suddenly be before the woman on the beach, the cool, nocturnal waves washing over her bare feet. She said the words that the woman would whisper to her. At this, Thranduil jumped from the bed, obviously reaching the end of his wits. It seemed to Lirulin that he had finally grown too perturbed to even be in her presence.
“That is not the end!” she cried as he went for the door. He was trying to act calm, as if nothing she had said affected him in anyway.
“I am afraid our time is running short, Lirulin,” he replied quickly, anxious to leave her chamber. “Why don’t you get yourself ready for the departure of the party and meet me downstairs.”
This was not a question, it was a command. Lirulin sighed and nodded dejectedly. Thranduil, obviously very thankful to be able to take leave of her, hurriedly shut the door behind himself and disappeared, thus leaving Lirulin alone and unsure as to whether she should throw up or shoot something.