5. A Really Weird Tale
At first Eli thought her mother was not really serious when she told her the story of her parentage. When Amanda gave her a picture taken by her old cell phone during his visit Eli was still sure it was all a joke. Her Uncle Ted confirmed everything but he had to admit he never saw Elrond in person much to his regret. She knew about the golden wolves that lived around the family cabin having seen one or two over the years, but she never knew about the connection with her childhood pet golden retriever. It was when she was given the remaining piece of the family’s traditional parting charm for her own that she finally believed.
Amanda watched with growing concern as Eli withdrew into herself over the next few weeks, yet she knew it was her daughter’s way to deal with a problem. Eli would ponder and analyze it silently, seeking out additional information or sources as needed to help her find her answer. At one point she asked her mother whether Elrond had ever commented on the accuracy of the Tolkien books. She nodded when Amanda acknowledged that he felt the later writings to be fairly accurate but the earlier writings were revised too much to be sure that they gave more then a general overview. When Eli pulled out them out and begin to reread them, Amanda sighed with relief knowing that she was beginning to accept the truth of her parentage. When she viewed the old movies from the early days Amanda reminded her that there were significant differences in the story line from the books themselves but that there seemed a great deal of agreement on the visuals shown. When Eli asked if the actors resembled their characters, Amanda could only confirm that the actor who played Elrond did bare a strong physical resemblance to her father but that there were also subtle differences that had more to do with force of personality then actual body resemblances. There were many more questions but Amanda could not answer all of them. They were simply beyond her knowledge or experience.
Over the next month Eli and Amanda spent several days discussing the possible implications of her elven heritage. For the first time she understood why she had always been slower then her fellow students in growth, maturity and almost never ill. When faced with the possibility of immortality she became panic stricken thinking of the problems she could face in years to come. Living beyond all of those she knew and loved and never able to tell anyone how or why she had was mind-boggling. Either they would think her mad or she would become a subject for scientific study on her longevity. She shuddered at either implication.
They all agreed that her best chance for a life would have been in middle earth since it contained both humans and elves. Even when Amanda cautioned her that it was yet unknown whether she had indeed inherited that particular elven trait or if she could be offered the choice as had Elrond’s other children Eli remained petrified.
During this time she took to walking the woods around the cabin revisiting the childhood haunts and relearning the paths and trails she and her cousins had explored in their earlier summers. Eli could not recall a cave that Elrond could have used at the beginning of the storm that had marooned him with her mother, nor be the location of the bridge between their worlds. She began a serious search for it just before the 4th of July weekend while they awaited the arrival of the rest of the family. Remembering her mother’s description of Elrond’s arrival and departure she took off down the road and across the bridge. As she paused there on the road debating which direction to start her search, a sneeze off to her left caught her attention. She froze holding her breath as a large golden wolf emerged from the tangled growth of bushes and stood watching her. There was a second sneeze and a smaller golden wolf emerged to join the first. Letting out her breath and forcing herself to relax she remembered not to make eye contact at first. She did not want to appear either threatening or challenging to them.
Watching them from the corner of her eye she was amused to see that they appeared to be carrying on some sort of conversation. She decided to risk greeting them, expecting them to disappear into the woods at the sound of her voice. Much to her surprise they did not.
“Hello, my beauties. I am Eliann. I hope we can be friends. It is a great honor to finally meet you. I certainly mean you no harm.”
Both wolves returned their gaze to her then suddenly sat curling their tails neatly around their paws apparently waiting to see if she had anything else to say. Eli cautiously moved towards a large rock lying on the side of the road about the same distance from them where she slowly sat and faced them.
She continued in a friendly voice. “A long time ago my family dog mated with one of your ancestors and produced the first of your kind. After that, your ancestors must have bred among themselves, fixing the trait of your golden fur while remaining true wolves. So you see, in a way you are a part of my family. Somewhere beyond this place my mother tells me, descendants of those same ancestors also run with my father and his people. One day if I am lucky enough I will meet them as well.”
As Eli fell silent the large wolf stood and nudged the smaller one forward and with a long glance back towards her turned and disappeared into the forest cover. The lone wolf remained there studying her with a cocked head. Finally standing and slowly approaching her, Eli looked deeply into the softest dark brown eyes she had ever known. They were exactly like those of Glori the pet golden retriever of her childhood but immensely more intelligent then his. She felt a great peace surround them and without thinking reached to rub the head and ears of the wolf as she had done so often in the past for Glori. With a large sigh of contentment the wolf lowered its head to her thigh and stood there with eyes closed enjoying her attention for several minutes. With a whine the wolf lay down and rolled over on its back clearly asking for a tummy rub. Noting that the wolf was a she Eli complied and rubbed briskly laughing until the wolf began to wiggle and finally stood regaining her feet clearly reluctant to end the pleasant encounter.
Moving back to the edge of the forest she turned and gave a high-pitched yelp. At first Eli was puzzled, then when the wolf returned and gently grabbed hold of the hem of the over sized t-shirt she wore attempting to lead her into the woods she understood that she was to follow. When the she wolf was satisfied that Eli followed, she moved forward at an easy pace stopping and turning occasionally for Eli to catch up. This lasted for the better part of an hour ending in a small clearing with a hill and rock fall on one side and a stream on the other. There was a small ancient rustic log bridge over the stream and heavy forest surrounding the entire area. As Eli looked about the clearing she noted the small cave located on the far end of the rock fall. Moving quickly through the clearing towards it she was joined by the she wolf looking very pleased with her self.
“Oh my, beauty, is this his cave? Is this where he entered our world and returned to his?” Eli bent to look inside. A large bolder sat just inside forming a sheltering break from the outer opening. Entering she found piles of leaves and remains of a fire near the front with a small stack of wood just beyond. At some point someone had camped here. She knelt and tentatively touched the remains of the fire. Had he built this? Had his hands piled the wood over there? Had he slept here? She brushed the leaves away from a layer of crumbling fir branches that must have been his bed. She caught her breath at the gleam of metal half buried beneath them. Lifting it from the soil and leaves she wiped it clean on her pant leg. It was a knife about fourteen inches long with beautiful etching of runes along the blade and inlaid on the dark wooden handle with a brass tracery of vines. She studied with awe. It was unlike any thing she had ever seen. She had indeed found his cave. When she finally exited the cave she was alone, the she wolf had disappeared.
She followed the stream back to the road then up to the cabin. Amanda was just coming out on the porch when Eli climbed up and joined her. Mutely she handed her mother the knife and watched as Amanda gasped with recognition.
“Where did you find this?”
“It was in the cave.” Eli grinned at her mother.
“You found it?”
Eli nodded and proceeded to tell her mother about the she wolf and being led to the cave. She described what she had found inside and the knife half buried in the remains of what must have been his bed.
Amanda nodded. “He spent the night there before he showed up here. I know he had the knife when he left here so he must have spent a second night there before he left.”
When Ted was shown the knife he too was stunned. He never expected to have such real evidence and asked if they would let him have a friend who was expert in metallurgy test it to ensure it was real. The tests confirmed it was very old and manufactured with a ratio of metals not previously used.
One evening Ted speculated that Elrond’s trip was more then just an accident and that there had been an unknown purpose behind it. If that were true then Eli could be a part of it. Surely a way would be provided for her to travel to middle earth. Ted had become more and more excited by such a possibility. More to pacify him then actually accepting his theory she began to think about what she would need to do if faced with such a real option. In the ongoing discussions, clear requirements emerged and she found herself taking decisive steps to actually go.
It was never quite clear when the decision was made for Ted to join her if it were possible but the plans were soon including him. A family conference was called including both of his sons so that they could let their feelings be known. Both were shocked when faced with the full story concerning Eli, but found it easier to accept then she had feared. She had always been different from the rest of the family and now they understood why.
When they understood what she was attempting to do and that their father was preparing to accompany her they were not happy. Having just lost their mother, Donald and Owen were not eager to loose their father in what would clearly be a one-way trip. He was no longer a young man and they hoped he would spend whatever time remained to him with them. It was the knowledge of what such an opportunity would mean to their father that finally persuaded them to accept and support his decision.
There were ongoing discussions about what would need to be done in order to make the trip as effortless as possible. Everyone was most concerned about Ted. He had always been an active hunter and outdoors man, but now he was in his mid sixties. Everything that was known from Tolkiens’ writing about middle earth it indicated a very physical lifestyle. Would he in fact be able to adjust and survive it? Both undertook a strict physical training program and soon it was clear that while he may never win the West Coast Iron Man Competition, he should be able to keep up with Eli hiking fairly rugged terrain with a normal pack.
Ted spoke both Sindarin and Westerness, the languages that Tolkien had developed but attributed to the world of middle earth. Since it was important that both should be able to communicate with the inhabitants of middle earth Eli studied hard with her uncle to learn Sindarin as well and read everything she could find written by the master.
Other preparations were undertaken to obtain the right equipment and supplies. Their choices had been limited by the fact they could carry only so much. It was crucial they maintain a low profile until they were safe within Imladris. They could not take anything that hinted at being mass-produced in an alien place or that would call attention to themselves. As a result their clothes were of hand loomed wool, cotton or linen as well as leather, and hand sewed in designs reminiscent of those Amanda had recalled from Elrond’s visit.
Ted had sighed reluctantly when he had to leave his down sleeping bag behind, but the fabric was too alien not to be noticed. They settled for simple dark hand woven woollen blankets to serve each as both their bedding and a cloak. What food they would take were dried or processed at home; fruit, nuts, and jerked meat that would not appear unfamiliar in their new environment. For cooking and eating they had selected a small cast iron kettle and wooden bowls with hand forged forks and spoons. These last came from the catalogue of a well-known kitchen supply house and both Amanda and Eli had been outright hysterical in their amusement finding them there.
When it came to the weapons they would need, Ted approached his local medieval re-enactment chapter with an unusual request for their assistance. He wished to recreate as authentically as possible those weapons he would need as an average nobleman or elf living in middle earth to deal with the more obvious and common dangers he would face. He would pay for the appropriate craftsman to manufacture those items eventually selected from their suggestions and ask their experts to assist in a basic training course to insure the safety of the user. In return for their assistance he agreed to provide them a sum of money to be used for their next annual summer event. Since he was a well-known Tolkien scholar it had not struck them as strange only as an exciting opportunity and challenge to develop those things they were often limited by cost in creating and so they readily agreed.
The results provided each with a knife crafted by a local sword maker to the re-enactment community, sheathed in leather, and belted at their waist. In addition, a sword similar to the one that Elrond had carried was sheathed in a scabbard and lashed to the pack each would carry. They had discussed the wisdom of this because both had little experience with a blade, and at his age Ted was concerned he might be more of a liability then an asset. Both had trained with the local re-enactment swordsman expert to ensure they could handle their blades without endangering themselves but the fact remained they could not predict what style of sword work they would encounter. In addition and for more practical reasons, They both carried a bow and quiver filled with arrows obtained from another craftsman who specialized in authentic hand crafted medieval archery weaponry.
They were finally ready.
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.