The Choice

By Aralinn

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 16

They were sitting in a circle, with no fire lit, and Evelyn could barely make out the shapes of the men around her. Only their breathing gave any indication of who sat where. Legolas was to her right and the dwarf to her left. Since the wound had been tended he had stayed near her side, obviously feeling guilty she was hurt. Of course, he had to tell the others they had been attacked by a small band of orcs, which came as no surprise to her that he told when they asked how she came about being injured. What did surprise her was the fact that he left out the part of them dying in an icy tomb. If they found it odd he did not speak of how the fight ended, they kept quiet and showed no inkling to ask questions.

It was Aragorn who finally spoke directly to her. "I must apologize Lady Evelyn, for all that you must have overheard. Though, I do wish you would have spoken up sooner about speaking the elvish tongue."

She could not see his face in the dark, but she was sure from his tone two things. One, he truly was sorry and second that he thought she heard information she should not have over the course of the journey. "Any information I heard was nothing new to my ears, had it been I would have moved from earshot." She replied.

This was mostly true she thought, or hoped it was true at least that she would have not eavesdropped on personal information. She had known to where they traveled and why, and she knew she did not belong. However, if she were honest with herself, she would have rather still not heard the words that had been spoken.

No one had had anything they could say to her after that, and a long silence followed.

"Why do you not try for sleep Lady Evelyn, these days of travel have undoubtedly been strenuous." Gandalf's smooth robust voice said to her.

She was exhausted, beyond exhaustion even, if that were possible. Obviously it was, she was there. But how could she sleep after all that had happened? Her mind was too plagued with questions that she could not find answers to. Images of the dead orcs and Uruk at her hands kept flashing before her eyes. She kept seeing the men running after her, followed by the faces of her companions. The worst always came last…Boromir. Maybe because his death was her fault? Maybe that was why that single image hurt worse than the others and stained her vision with red.

"Lass?"

Gimli's questioning voice brought her back, she did not want to sleep, but clearly the wizard wanted her to and so she would try. "Right, yeah, I'll try." Picking herself up, she moved slightly off and laid again some of the softer packs.

For many minutes she lay looking at the stars, wondering what stories they could tell if they had voices. They seemed to be dancing overhead, twinkling in and out of view. Evelyn felt a strange sense of peace wash over her as she stared longing above. Slowly her eyes began to close as they grew heavy and her thoughts became a blank slate. She felt herself rise from the ground, floating weightlessly towards the stars. Raising her arms out to the sides, she twirled in the air, closing her eyes in the blissfulness of it all. Then everything erupted into a blinding white light.

"Ah good she is asleep." Gandalf stated with a smile that no one could see in the dark, though his eyes watched a faint glow rise towards the stars and to the west.

The elf grunted, "I would not be so sure, she is the loudest sleeper amongst us." The others silently nodded in return. She was always constantly turning and moaning, as she slept, which was not often.

"Oh I assure you she is."

Legolas turned, not believing the Istari, and was quite shocked by what he saw. "Gandalf! She is not breathing!" he exclaimed, alarming all the others who were quick on his heels to her motionless body.

"Ah, that does happen" he replied, clearly not unnerved by the occurrence. He watched in amusement as they tried to reposition her and smack her back, thinking to bring breath into her again.

"Whatever do you mean? You must help us, you are a wizard, and surely you know what to do." Aragorn pleaded as he resulted to shaking the woman.

"She is on a journey, or I should say her soul is."

"Enough with the riddles!" Gimli demanded of him as he stood in front of the body, eyes narrowed at the wizard. "What did ye do to her?"

Gandalf now stood, drawing himself up to his full height to tower over the dwarf and kneeling men. "You dare accuse me of such Gimli so of Gloin?" he asked, voice dangerously low, and the area around them seem to darken with his mood. Then he regrouped himself, calmly sitting back down on his log before speaking again, Evelyn's state temporarily forgotten. "I simply cleared her mind for sleep. Can you imagine the things that run through her head?" he paused, "No, I guess you would not. That is beside the point." He waved a hand dismissing the thought and continued, "Her body breathes not for her soul is not in it to give it life. Her soul is now in the realm of the Valar, thanks to the work or Irmo and Estë. They have much to speak of."

The blinding light slowly began to dissipate and she felt soft grass under her feet. It was cool and damp with morning dew. She could see nothing in the mist and she looked around, starting to feel frantic.

"Be calm my child." A male voice resounded around her. It was light and smooth, unlike any voice she had heard before.

"We mean you no harm." A female spoke next. It was a voice that sounded familiar to her, yet it was more of the soft floating quality of the voice, not the tone she recognized.

"Where am I?" she yelled into the nothingness around her, spinning in circles, hoping to catch a glimpse of something. Then she saw them, or what she thought had to be two people. They were glowing in the mist that parted for them, showing small specks of green in the mist.

"I am Irmo, Valar of dreams and visions and this is my wife Estë, the Valar of rest and healing. And you my child, are in our gardens of Lòrien." He spoke, waving his hand to dispel the mist.

Evelyn's mouth dropped open. Mossy grass spread out from her feet on the small hill where she stood. Wildflowers sprouted in random colorful bundles everywhere she looked. Small streams lined by mossy rocks flowed freely down into a clear blue lake with an island of trees in its middle. Waterfalls gave of a sweet spray of water and a light mist that draped around their bases. Huge trees grew, casting shadows on the ground where rays of sunlight filtered through and birds of all different sizes and colors nestled in their branches. Everything seemed to glow in ethereal light; it was the most beautiful place she had ever laid her eyes upon.

"I don't understand why I am here, How did I come to be back in Valinor?" She asked looking back at the two people before her. The one called Irmo was dressed in long, elegant,floor length robes of varying shades of dark blue which were lined in glimmering silver jewels and embroidery. A dark grey cloak was loosely fitted on his shoulders and the hood only partly sitting on his head, letting his silver hair shine through. His features where very angular, but his expression remained soft. Estë was garbed in shades of grey embellished with rubies that reflected their light into dancing spots of the forest floor. Unlike her husband, her features were soft and elegant, nothing but empathy was on her face.

"You are here for information Evelyn; It is time you know who and what you are, for a time may come when everything may be asked of you." Estë informed her, but did not elaborate when she watched the flicker of confusion cross the other woman's face.

She did not reply to the Valar, unsure of what to say, as she did not understand what was being said to her in the first place. She did not protest when Irmo took her arm to lead her to the closest stream and sat by its edge. The cool water felt good on her skin, it was as if the water was washing all her troubles away.

"Evelyn I have a story to tell you, will you listen?" Estë asked.

Evelyn looked into the Valar's grey eyes, searching for anything that may give away some inkling as to what was going on, but all she saw in their depth were knowledge and kindness, they revealed nothing. She nodded in consent, thinking it could not hurt to listen to anything they had to say.

"Many long years ago," she began, looking out over the landscape to her island, "Ilúvatar created the beginnings of new race. One much in standing with the Maiar but with powers related to the elements of the world he had created. Narwë was the first, though his name meant fire being, he controlled more than just fire, he held the power of summer itself in all it bright glory. Ilúvatar thought to place one element with a specific season to create amazing beauty on Middle earth—Fire for summer's flaming glory and heat, water with winter in its cold beauty, wind with autumn and its magnificent color to spread it through the land, and earth with spring to create new life. Fire was the easiest to create, and so was made first. However, fire is also the most consuming.

Narwë soon wanted more than what was allowed on Middle earth and Valinor and sought for new realms to expand his power. He was forbidden to do so, but did not heed the warnings. The lord of fire traveled far from his realm and when Ilúvatar learned of this, he grew angry indeed. As punishment, his powers were bound and he was cast into exile on Earth, a corrupt world where magic no longer exists.

Though, then something happened that not even Ilúvatar himself could predict. After many centuries of roaming earth's lands, he met a woman. She became pregnant. It seems he had conformed to the culture of the world around him, no longer holding to the nature of the one who created him. They were married at the insistence of her parents to attempt to cover any scandal.

They had a beautiful daughter—One with a special gift, for even though her father's powers were bound, he was still an elemental and his genes were passed on to her. Though on earth, the power was dormant, as all belief in magic remained dead there."

Here Estë paused and looked at the woman beside her who was staring at her intently before she spoke again, "Tell me Lossien, when you grew up did you ever feel as if something was missing, as if there was a hole in part of your soul, that only grew worse with time?"

She felt her heart quicken, how had she known the name her father had called her as a child? How had she known exactly how she had felt as long as she had been alive on Earth? She had been happy sure, but there was always a nagging feeling that something was missing, that there should have been more to her life than there was. An icy fear began creeping up her spine.

Estë smiled, "I can see that I am correct." Evelyn could not answer her; she could do nothing but continue to stare. "Am I also correct in that since your coming to Middle earth, that void has since vanished?"

Evelyn felt faint. For everything the Lady had said was true. She had not paid heed, but now that she felt for the void, it was gone, and she could not recall the last time she felt it plague her. What was it that the Valar were trying to tell her, that she was the daughter of some kind of godlike being that controlled not only the season but fire as well? That was impossible.

"No my child it is not impossible. In fact, it is quite real. Give me your hand." Irmo told her, and she found herself complying against her better judgment. Instantly images began flashing before her eyes. She saw her mother with her dark hair and her father with his bright auburn hair holding her inside the kitchen of their home in Ireland. She saw her father teaching her to ride her first pony. Evelyn watched her passing birthdays and stopped seeing the images when she had her twenty-fifth birthday alone, her parents had passed away earlier that year from a car accident. Then she was back to the present, staring into the eyes of the two Valar with her. She saw the truth in their eyes, but just did not know how to accept it.

"Acceptance comes with time. Now you know why it was your soul had to be brought to Middle earth. It could never be whole in the human vessel. You are much like a Maia, you do not have to take a human form, though most do, you can exist as your spirit, and you are stronger this way, a body holds one back, puts a limit on you so to speak." With a smile Irmo added, "Why do you not try it?"

Seriously? Make myself be a spirit? Were they insane she thought, not really caring they knew what she was thinking. Then a part of her mind echoed a little idea that bounced around in her head saying, wouldn't it be cool though? And, what would it be like? The saying from Earth, 'curiosity killed the cat', did not process as she spoke, "How?"

A large smile lit the male Vala's face, his white teeth gleaming in the sunlight. "You just feel for it, feel for your spirit and set it free."

Evelyn looked at him a bit skeptically, thinking it would never work. The rational side of her brain told her that if she tried it, she would fail and that would prove this was all a big jest. So closing her eyes, she focused her mind on her soul, not sure what she was looking for exactly, but jumped in surprise when she felt it answering her call. It was a soft brush against her mind, light as a feather, but stuck behind a sheer veil. Somehow she reached forward in her mind and swept the veil apart, losing whatever stayed behind. The feeling that came next was one she would never be able to explain. It was as if all the confines that held her were gone, nothing was holding her back and she felt the tingling over power pulse everywhere around her. She looked down and saw the Valar smiling at her, their faces glowing a little more than before and she realized it was from the radiant white glow, she herself was emitting. Looking down, she saw that all she was a float mass of white swirling light, with a slightly human form floating above the river. Quickly she pushed the veil in her mind back closed and felt once again the water on her feet and legs, she was standing in the middle of the stream, a light coating of fresh snow melting around her and flowing down the current.

"Holy shit, it's all true." She whispered, much to the humor of the others. She extended her hand and thought of snow and a snow flurry appeared above her outstretched hand. "Oh hell."

Evelyn made her way back to the bank; she did not notice the water parting for her as she went, as she was too busy starring at her hands in astonishment. She sat down heavily on the rock beside Estë, eyes never leaving her fingers. There was nothing she could say.

Finally, after several minutes a stray thought entered her mind, Evelyn was surprised it had not registered earlier. "You said this is why I had to be brought to Middle earth, but what if I had not died when I did, what if I had died of old age, what would have happened to me then?" She watched as the two exchanged a strange glance between themselves, their light heartedness from before was gone. Now their faces held sorrow and regret.

"You would not have lived to old age. The void would have eventually consumed you in misery, there would have bene nothing left of your soul to bring here. You were supposed to die with your mother that night of the car accident." Irmo informed her.

"You mean my parents, my father died as well in that crash." She remembered the day too well. Had things gone according to plan, her family may have still been alive. She was supposed to drive to her parents' house that day to spend the time with them. Instead, she had gotten caught up at the barn until a winter storm rolled in. Evelyn remembered going out with her horse, letting the flakes fall around her, playing like a young child. However, her mother had insisted on seeing her, telling her she would have her father drive her over that evening. Driving in the storm, they had hit black ice and went off the road. The cliff they went over led straight to a river. The bodies had never been recovered.

"Had you gone to your mother, it would have been the two of you in the car as it went over the cliff. Your father did not go with her. As such you lived, when you should have died and we could not let your soul destroy itself." Irmo spoke as he took her hand again, showing her the images of her mother arguing with her father and storming out of the house in the blizzard to go see her daughter.

"What…what are you trying to tell me? That my death was planned and since I escaped that fate I was killed?!" her voice was hollow as she spoke the words, turning to look at the two, eyes narrowed in growing rage.

"To put it simply, yes." Irmo replied gravely, as he looked at the woman in front of him in growing distress. This was the part of the discussion they had dreaded since they learned it was their fate to tell the elemental.

"You can't just simply decide when someone is to die. People have lives…I had a life!" she bellowed, hands clinching into tight fists. Evelyn was completely oblivious to the water freezing at her feet, or the wind that seemed to blow only around her.

"To have your soul die in such a way would have been worse than death. You were granted a great favor by Ilúvatar."

"Pah!" she spat, "A favor? Being stabbed to death is considered a favor? I think not!" Evelyn's rage was now topping its boiling point, she completely tuned out the Valar as her tirade continued, the frozen ground around her growing larger with every passing second. The flow of power was now reaching the Valar, their hair was being whipped around their faces, robes flying in all directions.

"Enough!" The masculine voice bellowed, halting all Evelyn's movement. The voice reverberated around the forest, silencing the birds and beasts wandering nearby. The light of the sun seemed to dim as he absorbed the power flowing around him. Only then did Evelyn finally realized she had lost all control, looking around her the beautiful forest was turned into a cold frozen wasteland, and all she could think was, 'what have I done?' tears welled up in her eyes at the destruction of the beautiful forest.

"Life is not always fair child." Estë spoke as Irmo went about healing his forest, his delicate touch restoring the wood to its previous state. "We never planned for you to die as you did, but even we cannot plan all things. Is it not a saying on earth when it is a person's time that, 'it was their time to die and that God needed another angel in Heaven?' now is no different, it could be you were meant to die in such a way to shape your future, who is to say?"

As Irmo finished his healing, he spoke to the woman. "You have great power, and with that responsibility. Your powers strengthen with strong emotions as you have witnessed here. Evelyn, you must work on control, for you can do much good, but you can also do much harm. Many choices will be put in front of you, choose wisely my child, for now you must return, there is no more we can tell you."

The two Vala stepped forward then, each offering her a warm embrace, which she seemed not to notice. She was still angry, but she was also ashamed at herself and her lack of discipline, though part of her still felt it was deserved. There were so many more questions she desired to ask, but none that she could voice, her mind was in disarray. What choices would she have to make? What was going to happen to her? What would the fellowship think if they found out? Did they already know? How was she to ever learn control when she had no one to show her how?

Once again, she felt the weightless feeling of floating off the ground take her, she knew then she was leaving the Gardens of Lòrien, everything around her started fading except the Valar. That was when a question formed clearly in her mind. One that blurred out all the others, "If my father lived and is immortal, where is he now?"

Estë replied, eyes glazing with sorrow, "That, we do not know." The blinding white light then once again consumed Evelyn.

She felt a crushing blow to her chest. Sitting straight up, she gasped for breath, lungs crying out desperately for oxygen. The humid air burned her throat and lungs, and Evelyn did not think she would ever satisfy them in time.

At first, her mind was a blank slate, as if a fog was clouding out all memories. She reached for anything, something to help her remember what was going on around her, and then wished she had not. As soon as she felt the stirrings of memory, she lunged for them, the hollowness scaring her. Then everything came back full force, knocking her breath away that she had just barely regained. All the knowledge flooded her system, weighting her down under their incessant pressure. She had to get away. Without thinking as got to her feet and ran, only colliding into Legolas stopped her movements.

The elf stumbled in surprise as the woman barreled into him. Grabbing her shoulders, he steadied her as he looked to her face. His eyes widened, her eyes had lightened considerably, and the icy blue of them was so light he had to do a double take to see them. In addition, her hair was no longer blonde but a blinding white. Whatever had occurred on her trip had changed her, at least physically. He opened his mouth to speak, but never got the chance, as she collapsed back against his chest and cried. There was nothing he could do but stand and wait for her to collect herself as the others watched, all of them wondering the same thing, "What had happened to her?"

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