“Send for Nimriel,” Lirulin said to the servant Carlas. He bowed and exited her chamber to retrieve Nimriel. Lirulin and Nimriel had been best friends since before either of them could remember. There was always laughter drifting through the manor when Nimril visited. She could always make Lirulin smile, despite all the grief that might have hung on her heart.
While she waited for her friend, Lirulin stared into her mirror. What she saw, however, was not herself. Staring back at her from the glass she beheld the dream woman. The woman’s eyes penetrated her own. Lirulin could only gaze blankly into the mirror while her mind turned itself over and over again. She wanted to look away, but she felt as if her whole body had gone numb.
She tore her eyes away from the mirror. She felt tired and worn as she turned to face Nimriel.
“Are you feeling all right?” Nimriel asked.
“Yes,” Lirulin replied. “Yes, I feel fine.”
There was a pause in which they both just stood and stared at each other.
“No,” Lirulin said at last. “I am not fine, Nimriel. I am far from being myself.” She walked slowly over to her windowseat and stared out of the glass. Behind her, she heard Nimriel’s lithe dress drag across the floor and then cease when she sat upon the bed. Nimriel was ready to listen, but Lirulin wasn’t sure if she was ready to talk.
“I can feel that something is preying on your mind,” Nimriel stated. “I have been feeling it for quite some time now. It worries me, Lirulin. For many years you and I have shared each other’s counsel and I feel that you are drifting away. I want to help you, but I cannot unless I know what troubles you.”
Lirulin sighed. “That is the very reason I called for you,” she began. “I need you now, probably moreso than I ever have in the past.”
“Then please,” Nimriel started. “Please let me help.”
Lirulin could no longer contain it, not even if she had wanted to. Slowly at first, but then more willing as her tale unwove itself, she told all of that morning’s goings-on to Nimriel. First she told of the dream: of the sounds the waves made as they crashed upon the rocks, of the cool sea breeze, of the illuminated woman and of her stunning midnight eyes. Then she paused. Nimriel waited for her to continue. After a long silence, Lirulin finally conitnued.
“I admit that I have tried to forget it. I’ve tried for what seems like an Age of the world; but I cannot…”
There was another lengthy silence. Nimriel remained quiet, waiting for Lirulin to come-to in her own time.
“This morning when I awoke from this dream, I glanced in the mirror; though the reflection was…of someone else. This morning I did not see that which I have seen in the past.”
“What did you see?” Nimriel asked quietly, anxious, but not wanting to push her best friend further than she was willing to go.
“I saw her,” Lirulin replied. “I saw the woman from my dream. I saw her eyes gaze at me. It seemed as if she was an entire world away, but knew that I was watching her – and she was watching me right back.”
Nimriel bowed her head.
“When I was preparing to attend the departure of the scouting party,” Lirulin continued, “my father paid me a visit.”
Nimriel’s head snapped up. “Did you bother to tell him, then?”
“Of course,” Lirulin replied. “He knew something was wrong and pressed the matter until I revealed to him what it was. There was something troubling him, though. He was disturbed by my dream, I could feel it. I could feel his unease.”
“How so?” Nimriel queried.
Lirulin sighed and shook her head. “By many devices. He remained calm and attentive until I told him about the woman’s warning. The words had barely left my mouth before I began to feel his distress.”
“Her words?” Nimriel began. She looked down at her hands that had been folded in her lap. She unwound her fingers and stared at her palms. “`The air is black,’-“
“`Follow the sunset.'” Lirulin finished.
Nimriel shot a questioning glance at Lirulin, but then looked quickly back down at her palms with a heavy sigh. “If you were hoping for an interpretation, I fear that you called upon the wrong person.”
“No,” Lirulin replied simply. “I need naught of an interpretation nor an explanation. I need courage, Nimriel, and your advice.”
“You want my advice, Lirulin?” Nimriel asked. Lirulin nodded. “My advice would be to go to Thranduil. Press him the way he pressed you. You said you `felt’ that he was disturbed?” Lirulin nodded again. “Well I have a feeling now. I can feel that he knows something of your woman; I can feel that he could interpret this dream better than any of the analysts or prophets. Go to him, Lirulin. Demand answers from him.”
Lirulin remained silent. She knew that her friend was right, Nimriel always was; but part of her didn’t want to admit it. She didn’t want to admit that going to Thranduil was her only option. She didn’t want to admit that she would have rather choked on her next breath and fallen dead to the ground than try to press her imposing foster-father for an interpretation of a dream that probably wasn’t of much importance to begin with.
“Lirulin?” Nimriel prompted her friend out of her trance. “Lirulin, you must get your answers. You have already had to wait too long.”
“I know what I must do,” Lirulin replied. “I’m just not sure I am prepared to do it.”
Nimriel chuckled. “There is no need to be frightened of your own father! What is the worst possible thing that he could do? Send you to your room?” They laughed together for a moment.
“I still need your courage, Nimriel,” Lirulin stated after their mirth had subsided.
“I know not of what courage you speak of,” Nimriel replied. “Whatever it is that I have, though, I swear that I will give as much of it as you need.”
Lirulin smiled. She moved from the windowseat and sat down on the bed beside Nimriel. She grabbed her hand with both of her own and squeezed tightly. They sat in silence and stared out of the window, both locked in her own thoughts. From the silence, Nimriel’s voice rang like a beacon would shine through heavy fog.
“Dreams are untustworthy,” she stated, as if to herself. “You must test them just as you would test unstable ground. They could mean something, or they could not.” She turned her gaze from the window. Lirulin kept her eyes forward, though she knew that Nimriel was speaking directly to her. “Thranduil cannot tell you which path to take. In the end all shall be left up to you and no other.”