"Caran Amrún" (Red Sunrise)
ApaDae (Foreshadow)Suddenly there was thunder, heavy and rolling and shaking the ground and the trees. As it ended there was woman's terrified cry coming from above them, and as Legolas looked up the branches bent down as something fell through them. A young woman fell through the air, hitting the ground with a resounding crack. She rolled to her side as she tried to regain her lost breath, setting her hands to the dirt beneath her.
Legolas stared, trying to comprehend what he saw before him; a woman with long, very dark brown hair, a white shirt with half-sleeves and what appeared to be a grey-checked shirt tied to her waist, and strange blue pants that appeared to be of a rough weave. Then the Uruk-hai, who had stopped their advance upon her appearance, gave a roar, intending to take advantage of their enemy's distraction. At a warning shout from Gimli, Legolas set several arrows to his bow and fired them in unison, taking down three of the advancing creatures. From the corner of his eye he saw an Uruk-hai bearing down on the woman, sword raised to strike, but the woman noticed, and with a look of panic she reached for the nearest weapon– the sword of a fallen Uruk-hai. As the creature reached her she shoved the sword up and into its belly. Eyes wide with shock she stared at its fallen body, before starting at the approach of yet another Uruk-hai from behind and swinging her sword around to cut it down. Firing arrow after arrow, finally resorting to his twin knives when he ran out, Legolas couldn't help but be impressed by her quick reflexes. For though she was obviously in shock and in a panic to find herself in the middle of a battle, her survival instinct was definitely alive and well as she cut down yet another Uruk-hai.
Ducking just as an enemy blade sung through the air above him, Legolas turned his mind back to the fight. He could hear Gimli behind him, the identifiable hacking sound of his ax followed by his roars of challenge and triumph. Aragorn was a few feet away, his sword flashing in the sunlight that filtered down through the trees.
The Uruk-hai seemed to come at them in a never-ending stream. At one point there was a yell of pain from the woman, but when Legolas turned it was just in time to see her drive her sword forward into chest of an Uruk-hai, her left hand blocking the creature's blade.
At the same time he saw an Uruk-hai coming up on the dwarf's blind spot. "Gimli!" he called.
The dwarf spun around, ax swinging in a high arc to land on the creature's head. With a nod to Legolas, Gimli turned to face another onslaught.
A horn suddenly cut through the sounds of battle, blowing again and again and again. Aragorn turned, his eyes growing wide. "Boromir!"
With a nod to him, assuring that they were behind him, Legolas spun his knives and shoved back, hearing the dying gurgle of an Uruk-hai a moment later.They found Boromir lying amidst dozens of the dead creatures. He was pierced with many arrows, his skin wax from loss of blood. Aragorn knelt by his side, leaning over him and speaking quietly. Legolas and Gimli could not hear what was said, but they knew that their friend was dying. Beside them stood the woman, her face and arms and shirt soiled with black blood, her hair falling tangled about her face. Though he did not turn to look, Legolas heard her sink to her knees beside him.
Finally Aragorn rose, and they saw that he had wept. Boromir lay with closed eyes, his sword held to his chest, his face at peace. Turning, Aragorn looked at them. "We must send him back to Gondor." He said quietly. Then his eyes flickered to the ground beside Legolas. "My lady…"
"I'm sorry." She whispered, wiping her face with her right hand. She saw Aragorn's questioning look. "I know he was your friend." She pushed herself to her feet. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
Once the arrows were removed, Boromir's face and hands were washed with water from the river. Then he was placed in one of the boats from Lorien, and his hands were crossed over his chest with his sword laid beside him. Then he was covered with his elven cloak.
Standing upon the riverbank, Aragorn said a few quiet words, a final blessing. Then the boat was pushed into the rushing water. The deed done Aragorn turned back to join his companions, but he paused, frowning. "Where is the lady?" he asked.
Glancing behind, where she had stood during Aragorn's blessing, Legolas and Gimli were surprised to find her gone. Gimli gave a low growl of confusion. "Now where could she have got to?" he said, turning in a circle
Legolas, his brows drawn slightly together, eyed the ground and saw the tracks leading downriver. When he looked up he saw Aragorn watching him. "I will find her." Legolas said quietly.
"And I shall go with you." Gimli declared.
Legolas turned to his friend. "No," he said. He looked up at Aragorn. "She appeared frightened. I will go alone."
The ranger nodded.
Legolas found her crouched beside the river, her mouth a thin line as she gingerly held her left hand in the cool, rushing water. As he approached she looked up quickly, her eyes betraying her continued unrest and wariness, her body tensing in preparation for flight or battle. Seeing it was only him and not an enemy a little of the tension left her, but he could still sense her uneasiness, like a bird ready to take flight at the first sign of danger.
He held out his hand. "It is only I." he said, approaching her slowly. Kneeling in the damp earth beside her he gestured to her hand, still held in the water. "May I?"
She stared at him a moment longer, then swallowed tightly, and she nodded. She offered him her hand, gleaming with water, and he noticed its trembling. Gently he took it, his fingers soft on her skin, and frowned in sympathy at the ragged cut that tore its way across the width of her palm.
Legolas looked up into her large dark eyes, which were gazing at him with an unreadable expression, and yet he recognized her attempt to reach out to him. "I am called Legolas." He said, giving her a soft smile before returning to his work.
There was a moment of silence as he washed the grime from her cut.
"I tried blocking one of their swords." She said, watching him work. There was a wry note in her voice. "Not the brightest thing to do, I guess. I should've just ducked."
A small chuckle escaped him.
When the wound was clean he pulled out a strip of cloth from the pouch on his belt and wrapped it around her hand. "You arrived in a most unusual way, fair lady." He said, tying the bandage gently but snugly. "Where are you from?"
A laugh escaped her. She looked away with an upward roll of her eyes, looking to the sky. "A long way from here, I can tell you that." At his questioning look she sighed. "Eau Claire, Wisconsin."
Legolas frowned, his head tilting. "I do not know this place."
Another wry laugh. "No, you wouldn't." Mary looked down, staring hard at her right hand, fisted atop her strange blue pants with its rough weave.
"How did you come to be here?"
"I don't know." She whispered. "I was reading some old notes from a writer, and the next thing I know I'm falling through the branches of trees into the middle of those huge, horrible–" she suddenly stopped, staring through the trees, and then she turned to him. "You're Legolas."
Her dark eyes narrowed, catching the afternoon sun and suddenly blazing like gold amber in the light. "And they," she pointed with her right hand down the river towards his companions. "Are Aragorn and Gimli."
Legolas adjusted his legs so that he no longer knelt, but crouched, leaning closer. "Yes." he answered.
She sat back, rolling her eyes, and then pressed the heel of her right hand to her eye, grimacing. "I don't believe this." She laughed. "I knew it right away, but– I'm in Lord of the Rings. This is crazy."
"Lady, of what do you speak?"
Two crystalline tears spilled out onto her cheeks, and raking her fingers through dark, straight hair she lifted her eyes to his. "Not only am I in a different place," she said matter of factly. "But I am in a different time, in a different world."
Legolas blinked in surprise. "I do not understand."
She shifted on her knees so that she was facing him fully. "I come from a completely different world." She said, her hands gesturing to illustrate her words. "A world that is also from a different time– I think. What I mean is, there, there are no Uruk-hai, no elves, no wizards, no goblins, no hobbits, no balrogs, no magic… Nothing. Only men. And there we don't cook over fires, we cook with machines called stoves. We don't ride horses everywhere, we drive machines that look like metal, horseless carriages. We don't fight with swords or bows, we shoot bullets from guns!" Mary shook her head, missing the confusion in Legolas' eyes. "I was sitting in my room, going over these notes from a guy named Tolkien, and I was reading a part out loud, a section where he had all of these elven phrases– or spells, I guess– and all of a sudden I felt like I was being pulled, and then there was this horrible jerk, and then I was falling– You know the rest." Another tear spilled onto her cheek, and she hastily wiped at it.
Legolas could hardly believe the tale she had just told, but then, he realized, he had been there when she had come through. When she had fallen from the sky. Brows drawing together he looked at her, noting her tears. "Are you alright?"
She shrugged, her shoulders sagging. "Don't mind me." She said, tears now trickling in a stream down her cheeks. "I mean, I'm thrilled that I'm here– it's like a dream come true for me– but I've just been warped from my world to here and been through my first battle ever." Pressing her hand to her face she shook her head, then looked up again, exhaling loudly. "Oh– This is just how women react to things: 'When in doubt: cry.'"
Despite himself, Legolas smiled. Mary noticed. "It's a very good strategy." She insisted, causing him to smile again. "Works every time for me." A chuckle escaped her, then she put a hand to her face again, a fresh onslaught of tears hitting her. "I'm sorry. I promise I'll be done in a minute."
"No, my lady." Legolas put a hand on her shoulder, offering his comfort. "Do not apologize. If what you say is true, then you have been through what no one else has."
She nodded, then looked at him. "You know what the funny thing is?" she said, wiping her cheeks vainly. "That doesn't bother me so much. It's the fighting." Her eyes looked over his shoulder, unfocusing. "I've never even hit someone before, much less put a sword through them."
Understanding and then sympathy lit Legolas' eyes.
Then she shook her head, emitting a fierce growl that surprised Legolas, and pressed the heels of both palms to her eyes. Muttering to herself for a moment, while Legolas looked on, she dropped her hands, breathing deeply and standing, her eyes dry. "At least my first kill was an Uruk-hai." She muttered. "That definitely eases the guilt."
Growing more and more amused with the strange, little woman, Legolas stood as well, and noted how small she actually was. No more than an inch or two over five feet, at most.
Mary noticed his eyes assessing her, and her own eyes narrowed back. "I'm five foot two inches." She said.
Legolas smiled, turning to head back with her to his companions. Not only was she small, and quick on her feet, but she was good at reading things. He would have to careful around this one.
Aragorn and Gimli looked up from going through their supplies. The ranger's grey eyes studied them quietly, and he stood, stepping towards them. "My lady." He said. "Are you alright?"
She nodded, reaching up with her hands to pull her hair back away from her face and off her shoulders. "I'm fine. Thank you."
"This is Mary." Legolas said. Then he proceeded to tell his companions the story that Mary had told him. At the end Aragorn studied her, his grey eyes serious and thoughtful.
"How did you come to know our names?" he asked.
Mary looked up from where she sat against the trunk of a tree. "Um–" she frowned, searching for words to explain. "On Earth, a man named Tolkien wrote about you and the One Ring."
There was a grunt of surprise from Gimli, and the ranger suddenly tensed. "What do you know of the Ring?"
"Everything. He wrote down this entire story, from how the Ring was created by Sauron to how the war ends and what happens to all of you after it."
Aragorn studied her, his eyes narrowed and dark with thought. Finally he turned to Legolas. "Sa na-minel nyáre se nyár. Tyaro le estel hen a n-bór?" he said. It is (a) unique tale she tells. Do you trust her to be trustworthy?
Legolas' face remained impassive. "Ni tyáro vá ist. Me cen manen se thi." I do not know. We (did) see how she appeared.
"Lótesse n-sa na quenn ella-Saruman's rincs." May be it is one of Saruman's tricks.
Mary had been staring at them intently as they spoke. Suddenly her voice interrupted. "Ni lau rinc ella-Saruman!" I (am) no trick of Saruman!
The two companions turned to her in surprise. "Le han min quettas?" Aragorn asked. You understand our words?
She gave a rueful grin. "É. Eva-ilya i nóre a am le gar-quenn man na mel-esse as Tolkien ar hon pennas' nia Endóre. Ni ngóla i lambe-s so toce ndu." Indeed. Of all people to end up here, you have one who is in love with Tolkien and his stories about Middle Earth. I (even) learned the languages he wrote down.
"Can we please speak in the Common Tongue so that all present might know what is going on?" Gimli asked grumpily.
There was silence for a moment, each one regarding their new companion with pondering expressions, while she continued to lean back against the tree, resting her head back with her arms upon her drawn-up knees.
"I know you have no reason to believe me." She finally said. One eye squinted as she thought for a moment. "Gandalf was supposed to meet the hobbits at the Inn of the Prancing Pony in Bree, but he didn't, because he was imprisoned by Saruman. He escaped with the help of one of the eagles. You led the hobbits to Rivendell. On Weathertop the Nazgul attacked and Frodo was stabbed after he put on the Ring. A piece of it remained in his shoulder, until Elrond was able to remove it and heal him. Gandalf then fell in Moria battling a Balrog. You went to Lothlorien, where you were given sanctuary by Galadriel and Celeborn. You are just traveling from there now, but Frodo disappeared and so did Boromir, and when you split into groups to find them Uruk-hai attacked." She looked at Gimli. "You were cousin to Balin, who took a band of dwarves to Moria I'm sorry you found his tomb instead of his company." She looked at Legolas. "Your mother was injured when Orcs attacked her company, and to save her life she was sent early into the West and across the Sea." She looked at Aragorn. "You are the heir of Isildur, adopted son of Elrond, and you love the lady Arwen. But you cannot wed unless you take up your birthright, something you don't want to do. While journeying from Weathertop you found a green jewel upon a bridge, a sign that Glorfindel was there, and you had Bilbo include that same green jewel in the song he was writing when you arrived at Rivendell."
The three companions stared at her in shocked silence. It was obvious that she knew more about them than she had said, but she had chosen carefully and only repeated information that would be fine for others to hear– and yet it was information that was personal and individual to each, so that they knew she spoke the truth.
Aragorn looked down, processing what he had just learned, and when he looked up again his eyes were no longer dark with mistrust. "Forgive me, my lady." He said, placing a hand over his heart.
"You know what is to happen?" Gimli said, leaning forward with his dark eyes glittering with interest.
Her face suddenly went blank, her eyes widening slightly. "Yes," she said slowly.
"Then tell us!"
Her thoughts raced visibly behind her eyes. "I– um–" she swallowed, glancing from one companion to the other. "I– I can't."
Gimli frowned. "Why?"
Her eyes fell to the ground, her thoughts still racing. "If I tell you something that's going to happen," she said slowly. "What if, by doing that, I change the future?" she looked up. "I could end up changing everything that happens."
Gimli gave a 'humph,' but Aragorn and Legolas looked at her approvingly. The ranger nodded. "You are wise," he said. Then he said, "Do not tell us anything, then, unless you feel it is right and safe to do so."
She nodded, chewing on her bottom lip.
Legolas then went to one of their boats, and started to push it into the water. "Hurry! Frodo and Sam have reached the eastern shore."
Mary stood up, watching as Aragorn rubbed at his wrist, a grim expression on his face. He did not move.
For a moment a disbelieving expression touched Legolas' face, and then was replaced by a frown. "You mean not to follow them?" he said quietly.
Aragorn looked up, gazing out across the river to the two small figures disappearing amidst the trees. "Frodo's fate," he said. "Is no longer in our hands."
A growl from the dwarf caused them to turn. "Then it has all been in vain!" Gimli ground out. "The Fellowship has failed."
Aragorn reached out his hands, gripping his companions' shoulders, and he stopped them with an iron stare. "Not if we hold true to each other." His voice was low, brooking no argument. "We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left!"
A light began to glint in the elven prince's eyes.
"Leave all that can be spared behind." Aragorn ordered, turning to retrieve a dagger. "We travel light." He turned, stabbing the dagger into his belt. "Let us hunt some Orc!"
Elf and dwarf glanced at each other, then Gimli gave a battle roar, his dark eyes glittering, and Legolas smiled. As dwarf and man began to run, turning into the forest, he paused and looked behind. Mary had left her place at the tree and was starting to follow, but her face had a strange expression on it– one of doubt. "Aragorn!" Legolas called, and the ranger turned. "What of the lady Mary?"
Dark eyes looked at him in surprise, then she smiled. "There's no way I'd keep up with you." She said. "You go on ahead. I know where you're going– I'll meet up with you."
"Are you sure?" Legolas asked, his voice low.
She nodded. "Yes. Now go! Your friends need you."
With a final glance behind, Legolas turned and took off, running lightly over logs and around trees, keeping up easily with his two companions.
They disappeared quickly from sight. In their absence the silence was overpowering, every rustle in the trees causing her to jump and turn, searching for an enemy that was not there. "Get a grip, Mary." She muttered to herself, backing up to one of the boats. "Use your head!" Turning, she searched the two remaining boats for supplies– those that were left behind by the three companions to make their travel easier. She found no lembas, but she did find a pack that had flint, some stale bread, and dried meat and mushrooms. She laughed a little, but her laughter quickly died. She had found within a small, rolled satchel of weed– from the South Farthing. It was Merry or Pippin's pack. She quickly found the second one, and combined the food into a single pack, strapping it to her back. Then she looked around, searching the bodies of the Uruk-hai, and retrieved a knife and a sword. She wasn't sure how well she could run carrying the sword, but the thought of having only a knife to defend herself, should she come across more Orcs or Uruk-hai, was a terrifying thought.
Glancing around once more, Mary realized that there was nothing else for her to bring. So she turned, and eyed the forest in the direction the companions had gone. Of all places for me to end up, she thought. I end up here, in Middle Earth, which I'm obsessed with. "At least I know almost everything about it." she said aloud. Then she took off, settling into a steady, fast jog.Legolas eyed the Rohan captain warily, his bow– though lowered– still ready in his hands. He did not care for those who would threaten his friends.
"We are no spies." Aragorn was saying. "We track a party of Uruk-hai westward across the plain. They've taken two of our friends captive."
A grim expression crossed the captain's face. "The Uruks are destroyed. We slaughtered them during the night."
A cold fist of fear clenched in Legolas' chest. Gimli moved forward, raising his hands desperately. "But there were two hobbits. Did you see two hobbits with them?"
Aragorn lifted one hand above the ground, indicating height. "They would be small– only children to your eyes."
Éomer shook his head. "We left none alive. We piled the carcasses and burned them."
Gimli's mouth opened in shock. "Dead?"
Sympathy darkened Éomer's eyes, and he nodded. "I am sorry."
Legolas lowered his head, unwilling to believe what the captain had just told them. He laid a hand on the dwarf's shoulder.
Éomer regarded them for a moment, then he turned and whistled. "Hasufel! Arod!" Two beautiful horses answered his call, and stood quietly. Éomer turned to the companions. "May these horses bear you to better fortune than their former masters." He said quietly. "Farewell." Sliding his helmet back into place, he turned, swiftly mounting his own horse. "Look for your friends," he said. "But do not trust to hope. It has forsaken these lands."
As the captain, Éomer, turned to command his men, Legolas suddenly stepped forward. "My lord."
Éomer turned to him, his horse dancing.
"Another of our companions follows us." Legolas said, pointing to the east. "A lady, from a strange land, and dressed in strange clothes. She travels on foot. If you meet her, will you lend her your aid?"
Éomer regarded him for a moment. "How far behind you is she?" he asked.
"No more than a day. Perhaps less."
The horse beneath the captain turned, dancing in a circle. Turning to face the elf once more, Éomer nodded. "We shall aid her, should we cross her path."
Legolas tipped his head in gratitude.
"We ride east, then north!" Éomer called to his men. A moment later the ground thundered as the horses sped past them, disappearing over the hill.Mary jogged, ignoring the constant burn of her legs. She found that if she sang to herself– not out loud, as she had no breath, but in her head– that time passed much more in a blur, and before long she would suddenly realize that several hours had passed. She paused a moment, on a rise in the Rohan plains, and bent low with her hands on her knees. Breathing heavily she took the moment to regroup. Then she straightened, knowing that if she stopped for too long she wouldn't be able to start again. Then a dark cloud on the far plains caught her eyes, moving steadily towards her. Mary squinted, her dark eyes straining. It was a company of riders. They were growing steadily nearer, so she stayed where she was, hands on her hips, walking back and forth. Suddenly there was a call from one of the men, and then the group headed straight for her, and then the horses were streaming past her. The ground shook beneath her feet, and she could feel the wind of their passing on either side. Within moments she was encircled, and a man with a crested helmet pulled in front of her. His eyes roved over her, taking in her strange pants and shirts. "What business have you in the Riddermark, lady?"
Mary eyed the men surrounding her, their spears held ready. Swallowing she turned back to their captain. "I'm following my friends. You've met them: a man, an elf, and a dwarf."
Éomer studied her. "How do you know we have met such an interesting group of travelers?"
Mary felt her throat tighten; she needed to be more careful about what she said. "You come from the direction they were headed." She pointed west.
He studied her a moment more. "I do not believe so." He said in a low voice.
Mary said nothing, returning his stare with one of her own.
Finally Éomer sat back. "Very well." He said. "We have seen strange things these past few days." He gestured to a rider who led a dark brown horse with a black mane and tail. The man let the horse go. Whistling, Éomer beckoned, and the horse gave a snort and came forward. "This is Ædelstan." He said, stroking the smooth hair of the horse's cheek. Éomer looked at Mary. "We were asked to aid you– should we cross your path, and we have." He bumped his horse's sides with his heels, and stepped closer to her, then he took Ædelstan's reins and held them out. "May he carry you safely to your friends."
Mary took the reins, stroking Ædelstan's face as he nuzzled her shoulder curiously. "Thank you, Lord Éomer." She whispered.
The captain leaned back on his horse. "The elf was right," he said thoughtfully. "You are a strange one."
Mary frowned. "My lord?"
"I did not tell you my name."
Heat rose to her cheeks, and she felt sure that all around could see her turn red.
"We have indeed seen many strange things these past few days." Éomer said quietly. His dark eyes held her. Then he turned to his men, and raised his hand. As they began to thunder past her, Éomer looked down. "Be well, fair lady."
Mary tipped her head.
He was gone.
Running her hand along the strong, brown neck, Mary hooked one foot into the stirrup, grunting as she swung herself onto the back of the horse, which was higher than she was. Settling herself, she took the reins. "I really need to learn to watch what I say." She said. The horse's ears pricked, listening to her. "Well, Ædelstan, my name is Mary." She said, ruffling the black mane. "Looks like we're going to be traveling together for a while." With that she bumped his sides with her heels, holding on as he began to walk, and then to trot, and then to gallop, his rhythm so smooth beneath her it was as though she were flying.The hobbits lived! Their joy at discovering that Merry and Pippin had escaped was paralleled by their fear when they found that the trail of the halflings led into Fangorn Forest. Yet within those trees they were blessed yet again. A man in white had approached them, and he turned out to be none other than Gandalf, resurrected and all in white, and more powerful than ever. From him they learned that Merry and Pippin had been found by the Ent, Treebeard, and that they were well taken care of. They also learned that Rohan was in danger, as Saruman had gained control over King Theoden. It was to Edoras they had to go. In short words they told of what had happened to them since Moria. Gandalf was grieved to learn of Boromir, yet his eyes pricked with light when they spoke of Mary and her arrival.
"Most interesting." He said quietly.
At the edge of the forest, the great expanse of the Rohan plains stretching before them, Gandalf paused. Then a whistle, as clear as the morning and as pure as rain, echoed loud in the silence, carrying far and wide on the wind. For a moment, then, there was nothing.
Suddenly a horse's call answered, and a horse as white as pure snow appeared in the distance, followed by Hasufel and Arod. They grew quickly closer, the white horse's great hooves churning the ground with his speed.
Legolas squinted, an expression of quiet amazement on his face. "That is one of the Mearas," he said. "Unless my eyes are cheated by some spell."
Gandalf smiled as the white horse stopped before him, his silken mane shining in the sun. "Shadowfax." He ran his hand along the great white neck. "He's the lord of all horses, and he's been my friend through many dangers."
Legolas watched in wonder. Then suddenly his eyes were caught by something else, and he stepped forward, straining to see. Appearing in the distance, a fourth horse approached, a rider upon its back.
"What is it?" Aragorn asked at the elf's shoulder. "What do you see?"
With narrowed eyes Legolas watched horse and rider approach, then his eyes widened. "It is the lady Mary!"
"Indeed?" Gandalf stepped up, his face lit with interest. "She rides well." He commented.
Pulling to a stop before them, Mary pushed her wind blown hair from her face. When her eyes lit upon Gandalf they widened, and she quickly dismounted. "Gandalf the White," she bent in a bow. "It's an honor to meet you!"
"And you." Gandalf said, his eyes twinkling. "I have much to ask you, when there is time."
Her cheeks flushed slightly, positively glowing with pleasure and delight as she stared at him.
"Come!" Gandalf swung onto Shadowfax's bare back. "We must hurry."
Aragorn mounted Hasufel swiftly, while Gimli struggled onto Arod's back with many grunts and curses. When he was finally settled, Legolas pulled himself easily into the saddle, and turned to see if Mary needed assistance. She was already astride Ædelstan, ready to ride.
Gandalf nodded. "To Edoras!"