12. A New Ally?
Eli stretched and pushed aside the cloak that had served as her blanket. She breathed deeply of the clean crisp air and sighed. For once there was no taint of the pollution she usually sensed. She was surprised that she felt little of the usual chill of the brisk morning air and turned to mention it to Owen who was now stirring from his bed. She frowned as he shivered and wrapped his cloak about his shoulders.
“Are you feeling alright Owen?”
“Sure, why?” He asked sleepily.
“You are shivering!”
“People usually do when it is chilly.”
“But it is …”
“Elves do not feel cold the way humans do, Eli.” Ted joined them by the dead fire carrying an armload of branches and knelt down. “It would appear that more of your elven heritage is emerging the longer we are here.”
Eli stared at him thoughtfully before answering. “I guess I just never really considered what it would mean to be elf kind. I sort of thought being only half elf I would have a few of their lesser abilities. It will be really interesting to see what else shows up. It might be kind of nice if I have inherited the ability to use telepathy or foresight like Elrond is reputed to have.”
“But that raises another serious question, how do I learn to use any of the abilities that do show up, Uncle Ted? We cannot ask just anyone for help and I do not wish to be an open book broadcasting everything all over the place. That could attract unwanted attention.”
He paused from relaying the fire and looked up at her. “I honestly don’t know, Eli. We will just have to hope that who or what ever is behind all of this has taken that into consideration and will provide you with your answers as you need them.”
“Suddenly, I am really frightened, Uncle Ted. Did we do the right thing coming here now? Maybe I have been stupid and arrogant to think I was so special that I had the right to involve myself, and you and Owen as well, in this thing? This is a world where our appearance and knowledge could be destructive and dangerous in the wrong hands.”
Ted smiled up at her, “Aside from the fact that we are here and it is a little late to worry about all that, things seem to be under control and progressing on someone’s schedule. We have made the crossing safely and arrived near Imladris. Our preparations seem to have been appropriate and we have brought what we needed to bring. It was your half brothers that found us and we have passed their initial appraisal. Then there was our greeting by one of the golden wolves on this side of the bridge. I would take that is a signal of approval.”
He continued as he added a bit of dried pine needles and moss then lit it with a flint strike. “I am sure there will be a number of worrisome situations we will face and we may never find a completely safe haven, but in spite of all the possible problems we face I am confident we have done the right thing. I will admit to some confusion as to Owen’s presence here but I do not believe he would have been allowed to cross with us if it was not part of the plan.”
“I wish we were in Imladris right now instead of waiting here.” She sighed.
“Be patient, Eli, things move much slower here.” He added with a grin, “You may have all of eternity ahead of you to deal with life!” Owen snickered as Eli made a face at her uncle.
“Well I for one intend to keep busy while we wait. Since we were told to stay put, I am going to take a look at the nearby plant life and see if there is anything I recognize and maybe do some sample gathering.” She turned to Owen. “Do you think you could make me a drying rack for them?”
“Sure, if you can describe what you want, I will see what I can do.”
“After breakfast.” Ted commented firmly. “You two have a few chores to finish before you start that.”
Over the next couple of days Eli explored the area adjacent to the camp and along the stream. She was pleased to see a number of familiar herbs and medicinal plants she recognized and began to collect those that had more practical immediate use. Owen constructed a small frame out of lengths of peeled willow branches lashed together with narrow strips of the stripped bark not unlike an old fashion cloths drying rack and hung it from a branch. Eli soon filled it with small bundles of willow bark, dogberry, and sweet marjoram. When the bundles were dry, she wrapped them in small sections of cloth torn from a tunic that they all agreed could be sacrificed. In addition she collected armloads of bracken which when dried and burned would provide a form of soap from the ashes.
Owen tried his hand at arrow making, selecting lengths of some straight branches from various kinds of bushes and trees around the nearby forest growth and streambed. He also tried making some arrowheads from the rocks he found along the rock fall.
Ted watched all this with amusement. “Owen, we are not in the Stone Age, nor are we Indians. Those arrows will be of little use.”
Owen grinned back, “I know these won’t, pop, but it keeps me busy. Besides with practice, I am bound to make a good one eventually.”
Ted looked up as Eli suddenly rose from where she was working and faced the direction of the trail. “What is it, Eli?”
“Someone is coming, Uncle Ted.“ Both she and Owen picked up their bows and took cover on the side of the clearing while Ted slipped behind the rock fall.
They waited tensely as the sound of a male voice whistling a tuneless melody grew closer. They watched as an ancient figure dressed in a dirty and well-worn dingy grey robe and using a walking staff emerged from the tree line that sheltered their camp from the trail. On his head he wore a very familiar grey hat and a long grey bushy beard covered his jaw and chest. He paused at the campfire.
“I don’t believe it,” murmured Ted to himself in disbelieving awe. “This is just too much.”
The figure fell silent, paused resting both hands on his staff; and looked about the apparently vacant campsite. “Mae Govannen, meldirs nin. I smelled the smoke from your campfire and would be most grateful if you will allow me to share it this night.” He called out to the hidden watchers.
“Mae Govannen,” Ted rose and emerged from his cover and addressed him with respect. “Your presence is most welcome but unexpected, Master Gandalf.”
The grey pilgrim studied him silently then spoke suspiciously. “I did not expect to find men here. This campsite is known only to the elves.”
“So the young lords Elladan and Elrohir informed us when they passed through here five days ago. We expected them to return yesterday and hopefully escort us to the village of men in Imladris. We grow concerned at their absence.”
“You are unknown to me, yet you know of me. How is this possible? Who are you and why are you here.” He fell silent and stared at Ted through narrowed eyes. Ted nodded at Owen and Eli as they joined them by the fire.
“I am Theodore, a scholar and teacher. This is my son Owen and my niece, Eli. We have traveled a great distance from the east to seek refuge in Imladris. I hope to be given access to the great library to assist me in my research and study of the Eldar and my niece seeks permission to study with the healers. She also hopes to locate her father whom we believe may still live there.”
At this, Gandalf looked closer at Eleiann. “Would I know your father?”
“Who is he? Perhaps I can tell you if he is there.”
“I regret, sir, that I do not wish to reveal who he is just yet. He does not know of my birth since he left my mother before she knew she was pregnant. He must be told first before I announce a claim to his house.”
Gandalf shifted closer to her and raised her chin with a hand. He studied her gray eyes then gently pushed her hair aside. With a sudden intake of breath he noted her dainty pointed ears.
“Where did you come from, tell me the truth!” he demanded, his grey blue eyes looking intently into hers.
Eli swallowed hard and paused before finally answering him. “We are from another world call Earth.”
He took a step back in surprise. “By the Valar, you crossed the bridge.”
Eli nodded silently.
“I was told someone would come but not who or when. There is much that remains hidden from me.” He stood there pondering her statement then looked closely at her again. She raised an eyebrow quizzically in response and Gandalf began to laugh. “Why that rascal, he has certainly been busy. Come let us sit down and you must tell me all about this. What plans have you made and what do you intend to do now that you are here?”
Ted and Eli exchanged glances as they move the to campfire and all sat down. She poured cups of tea from the small kettle on the fire and offered to the wizard, her uncle, and cousin, then settled back down with one of her own. “I was hoping you might be able to tell me, Master Gandalf. We came because of the uncertainty of what I may have inherited from my father. My mother feared for my safety if it turned out that I was more elf then human. Our world does not include them among its’ inhabitants and she had no wish for me to outlive all the rest of my kin.”
He nodded, “And your companions?”
Ted cleared his throat. “I accompanied Eli to help her reach Imladris safely and my son came along to keep me out of trouble.”
He went on to explain. “In our world, Master Gandalf, a writer set down a series of tales set in a place called Middle Earth and told of a race of elves, hobbits, men, and dwarfs who struggled against a great evil. That story was a great favorite, read, and reread many times over many years. One of the things that scholars among our people do is study specific subjects in great detail and compares them in a number of ways. I am one of those strange individuals. My admiration for the writer and the stories he created about your world led me to concentrate my attention on them and attempt to understand their underlying meanings. In my world I am considered something of an expert on the stories and I both taught and wrote about them for many years. Until the occurrence of the visit by Eleiann’s father’s, your world was consider merely the creation of a vivid mind and not real.”
Gandalf smiled and looked over at Eli. “Eleiann? A long dream, your mother named you well. ” He pulled out his pipe and packed the bowl before lighting it and settling back with a sigh of pleasure to enjoy a smoke. “Your father will be most pleased to see you, penneth when you arrive. How did the gwanur react to you?”
“As they should to all strangers in their land during these unsettled times, with great caution. We made no attempt to reveal more then the barest truths of our past, present, and hopeful, future to them.”
Eli bit her lip before continuing. “Master Gandalf, I do not intend to tell either my father or they who I am until we have a better understanding of what conditions exist now in Middle Earth. They must not be caused additional sorrow on my account. I have some idea from what he shared with my mother but our time lines may be different and there were obvious deviations from Master Tolkien’s writings.”
Gandalf pulled on his pipe as he considered her comments. “There have been significant changes for him and his family. He has additional hen now and…”
Eli blinked and found her eyes filling with tears. “His wife is healed and has been allowed to return?” She interrupted with emotions. To have come so far and hope for so much suddenly seemed to be an impossible goal.
He frowned. “No, she remains in Valinor. He has remarried with the blessings of the Valar as has the lady Celebrian. Their marriage was dissolved before she departed Middle Earth.”
“Then he will never know of me. His new family must not be burdened with an unexpected member of dubious origins. Uncle Ted, we will seek the human village at Imladris and as we had planned in case of this I will enter only as a half elf seeking to understand her possible choices. I will have to see what other options are available to me for training as a healer. Obviously I do not dare risk being close where he might suspect and be forced to acknowledge me because of his sense of responsibility.”
Gandalf looked at them with irritation, “What makes you think I would allow such a thing?”
“Has Sauron been defeated and has the Lady Arwen married Aragorn?
“Who is Aragorn?”
Ted and Eli looked at each other. “ You do not know?” she asked him with surprise.
“Eli, we must say nothing more until we know where we are in the time line for Middle Earth.” Ted said firmly.
Nodding her head she addressed the wizard. “We need to get to Imladris as soon as possible, Master Gandalf. We are a danger to all of Middle Earth as long as we remain outside it’s protection.”
Owen spoke up quietly, “She speaks the truth, Master Gandalf, we know who and where the hidden ring bearers are.”
Shocked, he looked at each in turn and then grimly added, “I will take you to the village in the morning. We will discuss this more at length though. You have come here for a purpose, but I will not allow you to sacrifice your self in the process.”
Willow bark- infused into a tea used for aches and pain. The crushed ends of a small twig served as a toothbrush
Dogberry-a yellow-blossomed cornel tree from the dogwood family. Its berries are used for stomach ailments
Sweet marjoram-used as a disinfectant and preservative.
Mae govannen-well met-a greeting
Meldirs nin -my friends
Gwanur-brothers, a set of twins
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.