She opened her eyes and saw nothing, only darkness. As she looked for some sign of where she was, the sensation of movement filtered in yet it took a moment to understand what it was: a gentle swaying, side to side… slow and rhythmic. A faint sound followed, like distant wind yet fuller and oddly soothing, layered with a light, dry creaking. The sounds combined with the soft rocking movement gave her a strange sense of calm. An indistinct light appeared in her vision, gradually growing clearer with each passing moment.
Moonlight poured in through a hole cut in the smooth surface running next to her, faintly illuminating her surroundings. A window,
she corrected herself as the words came to her in wisps of consciousness, it is a window…and that is a wall.
She pulled herself up to sit and noticed how heavy and languorous her body felt, not light and free as before. Before…
she frowned as she searched her thoughts,before what?
The leaden feeling extended to her mind as well. A fog settled around her thoughts and, try as she might, she could remember nothing previous to opening her eyes. Slowly, she slid to the end of what her senses unthinkingly recognized as a bed. She carefully placed her feet on the smooth surface of the polished wooden floor, but her body faltered with the effort of pushing herself to stand. After a few wavering attempts, she stood upright in the pale silver light drifting down from the window.
I remember nothing, yet I am certain my raiment has never been such as this. So plain and homely…so faded for an assumed form.
Her confusion mounted when she raised a hand before her face and studied it closely; first the back of the hand, then slowly turned the palm up. She frowned when she saw strange lines pressed into the skin, extending across the palm and crossing one over the other. Her other hand came up with a quick jerk and she found it had been affected by the same markings, as well.
She curled her fingers against her palm to form a fist and more lines appeared on her arms just below the wrists. When she splayed her fingers outward again they disappeared, but making a fist again yielded the same lines; it was obvious something firm moving within caused them. A sick panic filled her as she turned the left arm over and grasped the wrist with her right hand, squeezing tightly. Her hand moved slowly up her arm, and she felt something hard and unyielding beneath the skin.
What has been done to me?
The sick panic turned to fear when she thought of something unknown having been placed beneath her skin without her knowledge or her permission. What manner of thing is this beneath my form? As though pieces of iron had been placed within. Who would do such a deed? And why?
She quickly turned from the window and moved toward the door, but stopped after only a few steps. The rhythmic motion, so soothing earlier as she lay on the bed, now made her head reel. She closed her eyes and shook her head, trying to rid herself of the sensation but the movement only served to make the unbalanced feeling worse. She cradled her spinning head between her hands and without warning the center of her body began to tense and tighten painfully. Following close on its heels was a sensation she could only imagine to be caused by something within her trying to find an escape. A terrifying thought came to her, of the hardened forms beneath her skin, but the tight, painful feeling returned again, driving her thoughts away. This time it came with greater force, spreading up into her throat.
No sooner had the pain passed than it came again, and her mouth yawned open of its own accord. Instinctively, she wrapped her arms around the middle of her body and doubled over. Through the misery she thought only of something inside being forced up through her throat. The horrible sensation continued, over and over, failing to yield any results. The throes left her helpless and she drew quick breaths when she could and waited for the agony to subside.
At last it ended, and she stood, closing her eyes and taking deep, shaky breaths until her head cleared. She opened her eyes and focused intently on the door as she started toward it again, determined that whatever possessed her body would not keep her from leaving the room again. When her hand closed around the metal doorknob she hesitated, but took another deep breath and opened the door swiftly before she had time to reconsider. She exhaled in relief and relaxed when she found nothing threatening or dangerous waiting outside, only an empty hallway stretching out in front of her. To her left was a set of stairs climbing toward the ceiling.
She stepped cautiously into the hallway and looked around. The lamps on the walls of the hallway and at the base of the stairs cast a dim light, but the space still lacked radiance to her eye. My surroundings are as drab as my raiment. What manner of place is this, so dreary and somber?
She walked to the stairs and began to carefully climb them. Her hands slid slowly along the close walls as she used them for support, and she watched her feet closely to make certain she did not misstep. She managed the lower steps successfully and felt confident enough to raise her head. When she looked up her breath caught in surprise.
The stairs ended in a long, rectangular opening on what should have been the ceiling but there was no ceiling - only the deep blue-black of the night sky and the beauty of the stars spreading out across it. Their clear light called to her, as though they were old friends.
At last, a familiar sight. The dull look of this place is driven away by their brilliance.
The stars stirred something within her spirit; a fullness, almost an ache, filling her chest and throat, and bringing tears to her eyes.
“Elentárihini, a laita tárienna,” she whispered, and started in surprise at the sound of her voice. Not only at the flat sound of it, but also because she knew not from where the words had come. She shook her head and frowned, and continued her climb.
Keeping her eyes fixed on the sky, she took the rest of the stairs quickly. She did not look around until she passed through the opening and another unfamiliar sensation overtook her. A cool, grazing touch suddenly brushed up the length of her body, lifting her hair in waving strands around her. Shivers ran down her back and quickly spread over her skin. She immediately crossed her arms over her chest and held herself tightly, looking around in confusion. But whatever had touched her was nowhere to be seen. Another familiar sight distracted her and she let out a deep sigh of relief.
She stood on the deck of a white ship - not white with paint or with age; no, white was the color of the wood and here she found some of the radiance for which she searched. The silver of the moonlight reflected off the white wood, casting a soft glow and the tall white sails billowed, their fabric glimmering with the light of the moon and stars. She craned her neck up to look at the shining sails then looked out past the railing, over the water surrounding the ship as far as she could see. The full moon cast a wide beam of reflected light across the water, reaching almost from the horizon to the ship. The sound of laughter broke the calm and her head jerked to the right to find the source.
Three figures stood around the ship’s wheel on the far side of the deck engaged in conversation, their backs to her. She hesitated again and had to force her legs to move toward the strangers. As she walked closer she saw a fourth figure step out from behind the others; he faced her but had not yet seen her. They were male, she noted, dressed in white robes and their long flowing hair gleamed in the moonlight. The one behind the wheel stood taller than the others and his hair was very pale, as white as the ship.
As she walked silently toward the group the white-haired one behind the wheel started visibly. Sensing her approach, he now caught sight of her. His laughter faltered and he leaned around the others as she came closer. The other three turned to see what had caught his attention and they also grew silent as they stared at her.
They seem to pose no threat
she decided, yet the closer she came the more uncomfortable their expressions grew. They are Young Ones,
she told herself when she had a closer look at their faces and saw their tapered ears, although was unable to say how it was she knew this.
She reached them and studied each of their faces in turn. All but the tall white-haired one avoided meeting her eyes and looked pointedly away from her. Insulted by what she took to be dismissive behavior, she uncrossed her arms and dropped them to her sides. She gave the men an indignant look as she straightened her back and shoulders but this only elicited a more forceful dismissal. Though the tall one’s eyes did not falter, his companions jerked their heads away quickly and refused to look at her at all.
“For Young Ones, you are very discourteous. Have you no manners?” She winced slightly at the soft sound of her voice, lacking harmony or melody there and sounding hollow to her ears. These words differed from the words she had spoken before, but where they had come from was yet another unknown.
”Who are you that you would secret me away in this manner and to where do you take me?” she said, assuming they had brought her to this ship. Considering her confused state, she knew she could not have brought herself. Who am I,
she wanted to ask them, but did not dare for fear of showing weakness to these strangers.
The white-haired one’s companions looked to him expectantly, and she blinked in surprise when his lips pursed together. This proved to be a useless effort and a wide, amused smile spread across his face, lighting his features which she at last noticed were quite handsome and pleasing. He left the wheel and walked toward her, slipping the white robe from his shoulders as he did.
“I am Linquendil, my lady,” he said when he reached her, now clad in a loose white shirt and fitted trousers, “and if you will return below deck with me I will answer your questions as best I can.”
She watched him closely as he came to her side, spread the robe out between his hands and draped it over her shoulders. At first she thought to deny him, but decided it best to demonstrate proper manners to these Young Ones. She looked back at Linquendil’s companions and saw two of them still refused to meet her eyes. The third had turned her way, yet it was not her face he looked at. He gazed down toward the deck, but then she saw his eyes traveling upward on her form until Linquendil pulled the robe closed. The Young One noticed her eyes on him and turned away as quickly as before. She watched with interest as a ruddy color appeared over his cheeks, spreading over the pale skin of his face.
She shook her head in irritation at the rudeness of his dismissal and turned to Linquendil. “Very well, Young One, I will accompany you,” she said and bowed her head briefly to him.
He nodded graciously in return and placed an arm around her shoulders, turning her in the direction she had come from and calling over his shoulder for one of the three men to take the wheel. Linquendil’s arm remained around her shoulders as they crossed the deck and the weight of it lent a feeling of comfort for which she was thankful. He stayed next to her as he led her down the stairs and the two of them fit closely in the narrow space. When they reached the bottom, she saw the door to her room remained open, exactly as she had left it.
“Please, wait here a moment,” he said when they had passed through the doorway.
He walked to a table against the far wall, but in the shadows of the room hid his movements. While waiting for him in the darkened room, she noticed the swaying motion again and it made her head spin. A small flame flared in Linquendil’s hand, illuminating his face in the warm glow. He lit a lamp on the table and the light spilled into the room. He moved further into the room and lit two lamps on the wall, then knelt before a large wooden box on the floor. She heard a short metallic sound and Linquendil opened the lid, searched through the contents until he found what he wanted, then closed the box again. When he stood and turned to her, he held a piece of folded blue fabric.
“If you would allow me, my lady,” he said, walking back to her and gesturing toward the robe.
Linquendil took the robe from her shoulders and laid it across the foot of the bed, then unfolded the garment he held, revealing a long sort of dress made of a thin fabric.
“It is customary to wear clothing in public, my lady.” He laughed as he pulled the nightdress down over her head. “It has been a long while since I saw any of my mariners embarrassed but those three were highly uncomfortable when you crossed the deck wearing nothing but a frown. It was through no fault of your own, though. I know choosing clothing is an unfamiliar necessity for you.”
She smiled at Linquendil with a patient expression as he helped guide her arms into the sleeves.
“But I am clothed, Young One. When I am clad in my raiment, it is to me as clothing is to you.”
Linquendil opened his mouth to reply but stopped and reached for her. The tight, painful clenching of her middle had returned and she doubled over. He quickly helped her to a chair against the wall and rubbed his hand along her back as the misery of the involuntary spasms returned. Just as before, whatever was attempting to make its way out did not show itself. The spasms passed and she sat up, letting her head fall back as she took deep breaths.
“There are… strange things beneath my skin… hard, like pieces of metal…” she said, her words broken by the deep breaths she was forced to stop and take. “I fear they are trying to make their way out… and have chosen my mouth as an exit.”
He frowned with worry as he studied he but understanding came quickly and with it came another smile to his handsome face. Linquendil made soft, comforting statements of reassurance as he gently took her hand and helped her to stand. With an arm around her waist he guided her to the bed, where he turned down the blankets and helped her lie down. The bed and pillow felt surprisingly soft and comforting to her spinning head and aching body, and she was glad of the blanket’s warmth when Linquendil pulled it back over her.
She closed her eyes and listened to Linquendil leave the bedside and move around the room. After a few moments something cool and damp pressed against her forehead. Opening her eyes again, she found Linquendil now sitting in a chair beside the bed.
“Close your eyes and lay still, my lady” he said and ran the damp cloth over her face before replacing it on her forehead. “The sea brings on a sickness for some but it will pass once you are accustomed to the movements of the ship. The structure beneath your skin is foreign to you, but I assure you it will do you no harm. It is there for a necessary purpose.”
“I do not suffer from sickness, Young One,” she said and her voice sounded as weak as she felt. “What do you know of this strangeness beneath my form?”
“Forgive me if it is presumptuous to correct you, my lady, I mean no disrespect; yet my people are known as Elves or Eldar, whichever you prefer. We have not been called Young Ones in ages, not even by your kind,” he said with an amused look in his eyes. “Also I believe it would be more appropriate to refer to this form as your body as opposed to your raiment.” The amusement left and he was troubled as he considered her for a time. Finally he said, “In this body you will know sickness, yet it would take an illness more severe than this to overcome you. More than that, I cannot tell you for I do not know.”
“I do not understand what it is you mean, Youn… Linquendil.” She gave up her fight against the increasing weariness and closed her eyes, sighing heavily. “I remember nothing, yet still I feel things are not as they should be.”
“All of this must seem very strange, indeed,” Linquendil agreed, wiping the wet cloth across her face before laying it on her forehead and smoothing the damp hair away from her face. “Sleep now, I will be here when you wake. Perhaps your mind will clear after you have rested.”
Her form began to relax and she felt the heaviness return to her limbs. A soft melody came to her ears; Linquendil’s voice almost as beautiful as hers had once been. She smiled at the song and the kind intentions of the Elf; all too soon the soothing blackness surrounded her and she slept.
Night still retained its possession of the sky and the tall white lamps on the shore cast a soft light. She stepped away from the group standing beneath the lamps and watched her queen gracefully cross the golden sand littered with jewels and pearls. Elentári did not walk far from their group and as always she marveled at the beauty her queen radiated, even in assumed form. The ends of Elentári's pale golden hair brushed the glittering sand as she walked. A circle of silver upon her brow held the abundance of it away from her face, draping trails of jewels hanging from the circle and woven into the golden hair. The queen turned to her and smiled. Light from the lamps reflected brightly in Elentári’s eyes, the deep night-blue of them broken only by a circle of gleaming silver in the center.
The velvet dress the queen wore trailed along the ground and the color was impossible to tell; it seemed to shift and change with each movement she made. A soft glow surrounded Elentári’s entire frame and the lines of her body blurred within the faint light, as if something large and bright were barely contained within.
Elentári raised her arms to the sky, greeting her children and the stars appeared to dance happily just to have her gaze brush across them. The queen then turned toward the moon, extending one slender finger as though touching the moon. She spoke soft words as her hands slowly moved away from the moon and across the sky, stopping at a point in the western sky. There Elentári’s hands wove graceful patterns, tracing her fingers over the twilight starscape.
The small group on the shore watched in silence as the movements of queen’s hands and her soft murmuring grew ever faster. Suddenly, Elentári’s hands stilled and now she whispered gently, raising one hand toward the sky and calling something to her. The queen fell silent and a pinpoint of light appeared in the sky. It glowed faintly at first and the intensity gradually increased. The light grew brighter until it flared briefly in a glorious display. The burst of light faded to reveal a star; its brightness receded until it mingled with its shimmering sisters.
Elentári walked back down the shoreline, her bare feet gliding over the sand. When she reached those waiting for her, the queen’s smile was sad and she spoke to the one standing apart from the others.
“Once you leave these shores none of us may help you, and what you must do must be done by you alone,” Elentári said in her soft voice, “although it is not beyond us to send others should the need arise.” She pointed toward the newly made star and said, “Remember this star and watch it always. When its light no longer shines, know you have been called home.”
A heavy feeling came over her; the shore, the starlit sky, and Elentári faded into a thick mist. The feeling of being lifted and carried was all she knew. The mist cleared briefly and she saw who carried her; an Elf, silver haired and tall, his finely shaped jaw set firm, frowning as he stared straight ahead. Sensing her gaze on him, the Elf looked down and his features softened. He smiled fondly at her before the mist closed in to take her again.
No further visions came to her from the mist, only voices: one male and one female. She felt a soft surface beneath her and knew the Elf had laid her down.
“I do not like this, Melian,” the male’s voice said, “she should not be sent this way. Do they truly imagine she will be able to accomplish what she has been asked to do with all they have taken from her? It is foolish, and I full well hope they hear my words from their thrones on high. It is foolish.” He said the last words in a raised voice, and the female hushed him.
“There is nothing we can do; she has agreed to it. None of them, not even her, would pay heed to my warnings that this plan was ill conceived,” the female said, with a tone of disapproval as well. “Yet, console yourself with the knowledge that we have provided for her in ways they would not allow. Although I do not enjoy defying their commands, I cannot allow her to take this journey so poorly prepared.”
“If they did not so firmly believe they were always correct, their commands would not be so often defied,” came the male’s irritated reply. “This should not be put upon one who has so little knowledge of the place she travels to, she will be lost in those lands that are strange to her. They should have come to me, asked me to take this journey. I am no stranger to those lands, I would have been glad of the chance to return and put many things to right.”
“You are well aware you could not have gone; they wanted one of my Order,” the female said with a sigh. A short laugh escaped her and the female said, “I fear you would not have been suitable regardless of race, for they wished to send one to counsel, yet not interfere. I do not believe you could be subtle or patient enough to accomplish that task, Thingol, no matter how much of your memory was taken.”
“Perhaps you are right.” A self-depreciating laugh followed his agreement but quickly disappeared, replaced by the disapproving tone once more as he said, “Yet I would still go in her place if it were allowed. How can one fight evil when one has never truly known it?”
A hand ran softly across her hair, and the male spoke again, quiet and worried. “ She will know it if he still remains in those lands and he finds her. I believe he is beyond any redemption she might offer. They think to bait him with love, but I am uncertain if he ever truly knew love at all. No, I fear her struggles will be as much for her own sake as they will be for the sake of others.”
The gentle pressure of his hand was removed and he sighed, saying, “The ship is ready to sail, Melian, my love. We must go. If I remain here any longer I will be forced to openly defy the Valar and accompany her myself.”
She could sense the female he called Melian leaning close to her and she heard a whisper next to ear. “I owe you a debt of thanks I can never repay, yet I will try. When you reach your destination, search the chest they send with you. There are things hidden beneath your belongings, things you will have need of. Do not forget, and do not open them until you are off the ship. You will have dreams once you arrive in these new lands. Pay close attention to them and know what you see in them is true. In this way, I will send what help I can. My love goes with you…remember that always, my friend.” A gentle kiss pressed against her cheek.
The presence of the male and the female faded into the mists and she heard no further sounds, other than the gentle splash of water and faint creaks and groans. Sleep came to her quickly and she knew no more.
Elentárihini, a laita tárienna: Children of the Star-Queen, praise them to the heights.
Linquendil – Quenya – literally means ‘watery friend’ or ‘wet friend’. I was going for ‘water friend’ though. I despise making up names, but only because I suck at it.
I’m going to save the footnotes explaining the specifics until the next chapter, address everything at the same time.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.