Chapter 1 - A Kindness She Recognized The faint sunlight that broke through the thick branches of the burr and oak trees above her reflected on her night-black hair. The forest grass glistened with fresh dew and her light footsteps left prints along the green grass behind her. She was waiting for something. Her sparkling starlit eyes reflected the deep green of the grass as they glanced around the trees, searching…waiting. The noise came from her right: a small crack of a twig that her sharp ears could not miss. Her head snapped around to look for the source of the noise and saw only trees and shadows. The forest darkened even more than before as a cloud covered the sun. Her green eyes darkened as her pupils dilated to adjust to the new darkness. Another crack, now from behind her. She spun around, ready to face the thing she was waiting for but found only the silent darkness of the forest. But her eyes kept searching. Then she felt it, the hot breath on the back of her neck that made the hairs stand on end. He had found her. She dreaded to turn around to face him, not knowing what would happen. The moment seemed to last forever and the only sound she heard was her own beating heart and his deep steady breathing. She spun around again, now to find a large man standing before her. Her eyes wandered to his face, which seemed bright in the darkness. His eyes were of bronze and his hair as dark brown as the wood of the trees of the forests of old. His face held a fierce gaze as he looked down at her, yet there was kindness in his eyes, a kindness she recognized…
The faint sunlight that broke through the thick branches of the burr and oak trees above her reflected on her night-black hair. The forest grass glistened with fresh dew and her light footsteps left prints along the green grass behind her. She was waiting for something. Her sparkling starlit eyes reflected the deep green of the grass as they glanced around the trees, searching…waiting.
The noise came from her right: a small crack of a twig that her sharp ears could not miss. Her head snapped around to look for the source of the noise and saw only trees and shadows.
The forest darkened even more than before as a cloud covered the sun. Her green eyes darkened as her pupils dilated to adjust to the new darkness.
Another crack, now from behind her. She spun around, ready to face the thing she was waiting for but found only the silent darkness of the forest. But her eyes kept searching.
Then she felt it, the hot breath on the back of her neck that made the hairs stand on end. He had found her. She dreaded to turn around to face him, not knowing what would happen. The moment seemed to last forever and the only sound she heard was her own beating heart and his deep steady breathing.
She spun around again, now to find a large man standing before her. Her eyes wandered to his face, which seemed bright in the darkness. His eyes were of bronze and his hair as dark brown as the wood of the trees of the forests of old. His face held a fierce gaze as he looked down at her, yet there was kindness in his eyes, a kindness she recognized…
Thuriniel awoke in the breaking dawn. These strange dreams had not lessened over the past weeks and she began to think she was going insane. Ereinion was even beginning to notice a change in her behavior and how sleepy she always looked.
She glanced out the small window to see fresh rays of light from the new day. A sigh escaped her as she lay back against her pillow. She was surprised no servant had burst in the door to politely nag Thuriniel about getting up. Ereinion was up to something. That thought alone was enough to get her up and out of her bed.
Closing her door behind her, she walked down the hall silently, her steps hardly touching the tiled floor. The maiden who usually woke her in the mornings passed by with a polite smile and a small nod of acknowledgement, which made Thuriniel even more curious.
Finally, after meandering through the many indistinguishable halls, she approached Ereinion's study, a place where he spent almost all of his time lately. Rapping lightly on the door triggered a deep and friendly voice to call out, "Come in."
She opened the door only slightly at first, to peek inside, making sure he was not standing there with some unknown new trick up his sleeve, waiting for her to step inside. But he was nowhere near the door. Instead, he was seated at his large desk that was filled with scrolls of maps and letters with a grim look on his face.
She slipped inside and approached his desk with a fragile smile. "More good news?" she joked lightly, hoping to at least get a smile from him.
He only shook his head and grabbed a new letter from the side of his desk.
Another knock at the door signaled another deep rumble as the door opened and a large ellon stepped in. "More letters have arrived, my lord," he said as he moved to place them on the cluttered desk. Elrond cast a glance at Thuriniel, one he always gave her, one that made her feel uncomfortable, before looking back to Ereinion for orders. She surpressed a shudder as Ereinion spoke.
"That's well enough. Have a seat, Thuriniel."
They both glanced at the chairs as if they forgot they were in the room. Elrond only glanced at Thuriniel, once more with that strange look, but once she was seated, they both looked to their king. Her silver eyes remained on Ereinion and the uncommon look on his face while Elrond's fierce gaze rested on the High King.
"Lieutenant Elrond, prepare the troops for departure by the end of the week, we will be heading south."
Elrond gave a short nod and turned to leave, but once more he took a knowing glance at Thuriniel. She shivered, despising that glance that Elrond gave her. It was as if he knew something she did not, and he was only rubbing her face in it subtly, but yet his glance always held a hint of curiosity that she could not place.
Once he left the room, her attention turned from strange glances to strange commands.
"Leaving for the south? Are you going to Gondor?"
"Yes," was his short response as he switched maps. She recognized it as a closer look at the realm east of Rohan, the realms of Gondor and neighboring Mordor.
"But why so soon? I thought they did not need your aid."
He merely shook his head. "Gondor has always needed aid. It was unwise for them to settle so close to a wasteland." He pulled out a small letter and set it in front of Thuriniel. "Minas Ithil was taken and Osgiliath is under siege. King Elendil is calling for an Alliance."
She looked over the letter before glancing back up to him as he paused his research and watched her.
"You knew it was coming, Thuriniel, you could feel it."
She looked back down to the letter as she set it in her lap. She naively thought the uncomfortable feeling in her heart and mind were simple signs of her lack of sleep, but he implied it to be more.
"You have the same feeling you had before, when Annatar had become known. Do you remember?"
She remembered it well in her almost perfect memory. Before any news of the powerful stranger even arrived in Lindon, a dark, aching feeling overtook her heart for reasons unknown to her at the time. But once word of Annatar reached her ears through the wonder of villagers who heard the rumors, her mind quickly became clouded with headaches at every mention of his name. It did not take long before she went to Ereinion, wondering what was wrong with her, and after explaining everything that had happened to her, the decision he held as a burden on his mind became easier. He had heard well of the Lord of Gifts in Eregion and doubted to trust one so strangely friendly. The feeling Thuriniel had only meant that Annatar brought ill luck to all places he went, according to Ereinion. And this theory turned out to be correct, as Annatar was proved as the dark maia Sauron in Eregion after Celebrimbor created the rings of power, many years after Ereinion refused his wish of entering Lindon.
The sudden shifting of papers awoke her from her memories, and she glanced up to see Ereinion rolling up the last of the scrolls to reveal an actual wooden desk. Carefully, he stored the handful he had in his hands in the drawers of his desk. It was then Thuriniel noticed how worried he had become. His stature was still tall and proud, with muscle flexing wherever it could be seen underneath his white, silk robe. But his raven black hair was not as deep in color as it used to be as it hung loose over his shoulders, and the usual glow about him seemed less bright. His wise, grey eyes were dull compared to normal days and the only expression his face held now was a somber one.
Standing upright, he leaned against his chair and sighed and exhausted sigh, as if he had a weary day, as he looked down at Thuriniel. "What are you thinking?"
Her starry eyes met his with a smile hidden within them. "How ridiculous that robe looks on you."
His dark brows rose high at her comment and at last, the smile that she had been waiting for appeared on his face. "Now, this is silk, one of the finest materials in Lindon, and automatically acceptable for me to wear. And I am sure Lady Maya will have your head if you hint you do not like one of her best and finest robes."
An innocent grin appeared on her face to counter his sure smile. "Lady Maya already dislikes me for being in your house, hence the reason why I wear such plain dresses. I doubt me poking fun at her work would do much damage."
"Ah, but your dresses are not too small or too large…yet," his sure smile turned to a sly grin.
Carefully she eyed the great elf lord, trying to find another refute to his comment, but none came to her mind. She hated loosing spars to him, even if it was a small one.
Ereinion knew he beat her and he took the moment to fill the tense air with a hearty laugh. Her bright smile was still in place and her light laugh filled the air next to his. He moved around his desk to stand next to her with his hand held out for her. "Care for a walk in the gardens, my friend?"
She nodded with a grin and stood to take his hand. Silently they walked out into the hall and wandered through the palace, home to Ereinion and any he let stay. All guards straightened their posture and all servants paused to bow low until they passed. Soft were their steps and quietly Ereinion's white robes and Thuriniel's purple dress drifted behind them. While Thuriniel was simply enjoying the walk for the most part, her thoughts were on the oncoming war that Ereinion was about to fight. Ereinion's own thoughts were not far from hers, and he knew well what he would use this time for. After a couple of corners and passing at least a dozen maids, they approached the open garden as the sunlight shined bright through the door.
Silent they had been as they both kept to their thoughts, but it was not until they were well into the garden before Ereinion spoke again. "There are a few things I want you to know before I leave."
Thuriniel looked up at him as her smile faded slightly and her bright eyes filled with curiosity she couldn't help.
Quiet for a moment, he tried to put his thoughts into words. He knew this would be difficult, as it was difficult for him to accept his fate, the fate he had known for a few days now. "You have told me that you do not remember past when you awoke here in Lindon, correct?"
A silent nod was her reply.
"Well, it is time you know at least a little before that," he took a deep sigh before continuing. "Your age is closer to mine than you think, but I cannot estimate well how many years you have seen. You are from a place called Beleriand, north of here, and it was known as the world many ages ago. But where exactly you are from, I have a theory."
He shook his head, doubting himself and his thoughts, before continuing. "I found you on the Isle of Balar, lost and confused and nearly broken from the obvious hardships you had been through. I was on my way here, to build Lindon, with a large host and I could not bear to leave you alone without any care, so I brought you with me. You rested as we built and fell into a deep slumber for nearly a year. It was then you awoke and it is there your memory starts. Your turmoil must have been greater than I had thought at the time for you to lose your memory so easily, but perhaps these dreams you have been having are clues to your past."
Her eyes widened, "How did you know—"
"I am by no means unintelligent, Thuriniel. You have not been getting much sleep lately and it shows, and the maids have come to me with worry about the things you say and do at night."
She stared at him silently and he took the moment to sit on a nearby bench, hinting for her to follow, which she did.
It was then that she noticed how pale his face had become. His already grave look from his study had only worsened, and she could not place why. Even his eyes she could not read this time, he was well learned in shielding his mind from hers.
"How you got to Balar I do not know, but I know you are not a native of the Isle. I suspect that you came with the refugees of the Mouth of Sirion, after the sons of Fëanor attacked it."
"The sons of Fëanor?" She had never before heard of neither Fëanor or his sons, which was a surprise for her since she spent most of her time in Lindon reading Ereinion's scrolls. In fact, now that she remembered it, there was nothing in any of the scrolls she read about the First Age.
He glanced at her with a pained expression for he knew well her thoughts, even if she did not know his, "I hid the scrolls that tell the tales of the First Age, when the great lords of the Noldor fell from grace. I did not wanting you to read them, for I thought they might trigger something within you, something that you were not prepared for. You are obviously from that time period, and in my theory, you have much history involving the sons of Fëanor."
"Your theory?" Her eyes grew even more confused as she discovered Ereinion was keeping much from her all these many years.
"Yes, my theory. From your physical traits, your age, and your abilities, I think I know who your parents are, or were rather, but I cannot be certain for I have never met them myself and I only have the knowledge of words written down to aid me. I think your parents were great heroes of the First Age, possibly the greatest."
Her curiosity rose to a new level as she was anxious to know more, so anxious that she did not hear another stop near them, waiting eagerly to speak as if his tongue was burning.
Ereinion, unfortunately, noticed and paused his tale to Thuriniel to glance up at his lieutenant. "Yes, Lieutenant Elrond?"
"We have received urgent news from Gondor, we are needed as soon as we can arrive. The troops are ready at your command and already will it take several days to reach Gondor."
Ereinion sighed, letting out the last of this conversation into the air, and he stood, nodding to his trusted lieutenant. Still his face was grave, and though he stood tall, he looked as if he was hiding something. "Then we leave now. I will be there momentarily, I must ready my things."
Elrond gave a swift bow and he left as quickly as he had come. It took a moment for Thuriniel to notice he did not once give her that look she so despised. Her attention was instead on Ereinion, still eager to know all that he knew about her and to know what was causing his strange behavior.
He noticed her anxiety and once more he gave her a pained look. "We will finish this when I return." But he paused and continued in a more sorrowful tone, "I am sorry, Thuriniel." But pain was all she could read from his eyes in the quick moment, and no more would he give away. It was then she felt the dreadful feeling within her heart pain, like it did whenever Annatar was mentioned. And it was then she knew they would not finish this conversation.
Once more, his face turned to stone as he hid his thoughts behind his wise eyes and he strode through the gardens towards his chambers to leave Thuriniel alone to her thoughts.
Quiet she was for a few moments as her mind reviewed all that he had said and not said. The sons of Fëanor. The Mouth of Sirion. The Isle of Balar. These names had a ring of familiarity in her mind, but one that she could not place.
Still did she sit in sorrowful thought as the loud horns of war rang through the city and the large host of Lindon marched toward the war that would silence an evil in the east for ages to come. Women and children lined the streets as tears streaked down most of their faces and flowers and words of prayer were given to the departing soldiers.
Still did she sit in sorrowful thought long after the hosts had traveled leagues away and darkness had fallen across the silent and sorrowful Lindon.