To Your Mark

Chapter 40

With an audible growl of exertion she hauled herself up onto the ledge, rolling over until she rested upon the stones and allowing her a moment to breathe. She groaned and shook her arms out, feeling the ache of exhaustion beginning to enter her muscles once again as she internally cursed the blasted mountain.

It was a strange feeling to feel once again, after living for nearly an entire month without feeling an pain or exhaustion, she first found that she was ecstatic. She had noticed it more and more as she got further up the mountain. And as she got higher, she came to realize that now, she did not miss pain much. She had come to loathe it again.

She had also had to stop and eat about four times, finding that she oddly enough would suddenly become ravenous and need to eat. Ren had also slept a couple times but that had been further down the cliffside when it was still somewhat warm.

A cold gust of wind brought her from her thought process, causing her to shiver. She slowly sat up and yanked her hood down further over her head in hopes of keeping herself warm. Peeking out from underneath the rim, she let her sapphire eyes scan the snow-filled air around her. It seemed as though sometime during her journey, a blizzard had moved in and had yet to cease in its constant blowing that had nearly torn her from the cliffside multiple times as she climbed.

Visibility was very low and even with her sharp eyesight, the elf could only see a few feet above and below her. She was nearly deaf too, given that the winds howling were so loud, she could hear nothing over their roar.

And the cold was the worst thing to happen so far.

Galaren had of course experienced cold before, given that she had lived in the North for a number of years but even then, the chill never seemed to get this bad.

She had wrapped her black scarf completely around her head, only leaving her eyes exposed and even then she could feel the flakes freezing and weighing down her poor eyelashes. However, she had never been more thankful for the Dúnedain's wisdom before, she surely would have frozen already if not for them.

"You need to keep moving." She told herself, slowly climbing to her feet and walking towards the towering stone wall before her. "You can rest more on the next ledge." Ren promised herself as she reached upward to grasp onto the rocks.

The elf had noticed that too lately. She had begun to talk to herself. Mostly her words were motivational in nature or they were strongly worded complains about the weather and the mountain but nonetheless she had conversations with herself.

Gripping tightly to the stones, she slipped her hands into the cracks and pulled herself upward again and off the ground. She continued on for what felt like forever and she kept telling herself that she would rest at the next ledge. But the ledge never came.

It had to have been hours since she had last slept and she must have been climbing for the better part of the day, though she couldn't really tell. Her arms were now shaking with exhaustion and she was only able to cling to the cliffside now. The wind was still whipping by her, tossing her hood wildly around her head.

She found that she could neither go up or down, for she felt as if she even moved she would fall.

What happens when you fall to your death? She suddenly asked herself, her blue eyes widening as the horrifying thought struck her. What happens if I die in Valinor? Underneath the scarf she licked her lips nervously, her fingers tightening their hold on the cold stones. Do I just wake up back at the foot of the mountain or do I almost have to drown again? She turned her head and peered back over her shoulder, not able to see the ground below because of the wind and snow. Celebrian and Durin were right. This is folly... What if I just let go? I can live out my new life with my sister and I'll eventually see the Company ag-

"Come on!" Her though process was broke when she swore she heard a voice over the wind, one that was eerily familiar to her ears. Looking up where she thought she heard his imploring voice come from, her eyes opened wider, the frost upon her skin pulling painfully at her flesh as she did so. She almost couldn't believe her eyes that he was there before her, reaching down to her through the blizzard. "Come on, Ren!"

She was about to reach for his hand but then, her arms shook with fatigue. And suddenly, she was back dangling from a cliff in the cold and rain, lightning and thunder flashing and rolling overhead.

"I-I can't..."She shook her head while she pressed her covered face to the frozen stones, telling him that she couldn't move both due to the fear of falling and because her arms hurt so badly.

"I said come on!" He rumbled down to her, his hand still extended towards her. Looking up into his eyes, he nodded his head silently urging for her to hurry and take his hand before her arm muscles gave out entirely. "Don't give up on me, Ren."

The elf only gazed up at him for the longest time, feeling some strength surge into her body at his words.

"I won't." She whispered before bringing her knees up to her chest. She coiled her legs before she surged upward to grab ahold of his hand. However, she did not feel the grabbing of his own hand upon her arm, nor did she feel the tug on her muscles as she was pulled upward.

Blinking again, she felt her brows draw together when Thorin was suddenly gone and instead, she held onto a ledge in the mountainside. Realizing that she had found a place to rest, she felt a bit of relief wash over her.

Don't give up on me.

His voice still carried on the wind and she grit her teeth and promised herself that the pain would soon end before she hauled herself upward one more time, her fingers digging painfully into the stones as she pulled herself onto the small shelf.

She felt the tension ease from her muscles as she just lay there, not caring if the snow started to accumulate on her now closed eyelids. She was at least safe and could rest.

A few minutes passed as she just lay there but she soon realized that it had gotten too cold for her liking so she opened her eyes, deciding whether or not she should just continue to lay there or to sit up.

What she saw above her made something inside her whine with protest, given that it was only snowy and she couldn't see a thing. Ren was frustrated the most with the fact that she didn't know how long she had been climbing or how close to the top she was. The sky had yet to grow dark once and the elleth wondered if night even existed on this accursed mountainside.

"Eat and go to bed." She reminded herself as she continued to lay on the frozen ground. "You need to rest." Taking a deep breath, she nodded in assurance before she sat up, her body aching all over.

The female couldn't help but groan as she struggled to her feet and then she let her bags slip off her shoulders, only letting one of them fall unceremoniously to the ground while she caught the other in her hand. She sighed when the weight left her shoulders and after a moment of just standing, she slowly began to search her bag for the lembas bread and the cold stew that was stored in the bottom of her bag.

She took a seat on a nearby boulder and unwrapped the loaf and took the lid off the pot of soup.

It wasn't the most delectable of dishes, she had to admit, but it was high in protein and calories that she burned while on the mountainside, something that Arathorn had slipped into her bag she guessed. It also hadn't frozen, much to her amazement so she drank the nearly ice cold stew but she was hungry enough that she didn't complain. The lembas always had a bit bland in her opinion but it filled her stomach with only a few bites so one small loaf lasted a few days, or rather, meals really.

After eating and taking a few sips from her water skin that she kept pressed right up against her body to keep it from freezing, she couldn't help but let her eyes wander around the ledge and much to her surprise, she found that the path that had crumbled and turned into a steep cliff long ago suddenly came into existence again.

However, she was exhausted beyond belief and decided that she didn't desire to move at all so she dug her bedroll out. It was more or less a sleeping pouch than a simple mat. It was like a bag that was lined with fur and wool that kept her incredibly warm as she slept.

She lay it down upon the ground and slid in feet first before she rolled over and pulled the cloth flap over her, concealing her entirely inside. Laying curled into the warm bag, she waited a few minutes until the air warmed int he bundle before she pushed her scarf down so she could breathe easier in the dark wrap.

Eventually, she felt her eyes become heavy and she slowly drifted off into a restful and much needed slumber, though she would only come to realize later that this was a big mistake.

It was a prodding feeling in her side that woke her. It was soft the first few times and she let out a small noise of sleep, stretching slightly in the bundle she was in. The poking stopped for a moment before it soon became more aggressive, almost to where it hurt.

Listening, she heard a few unintelligible grunts and strange noises outside and her once sleep riddled eyes shot open.

Inside her bag, she tried desperately not to panic and she slowly reached a hand down to her thigh to pull one of her daggers out of its sheath. Bringing it up to her chest, she waited until the prodding stopped and then all at once, she rolled backwards, her legs going over her head until they met solid ground. She continued to roll until she was balanced upon balls of her feet and in one fluid motion, drew the flap of her pouch back, baring her dagger at whoever was attacking her.

She felt surprise wash over her when she took in the forms of the strange, goblin-like creatures before her.

There were four of them and they looked just as surprised as she felt, having originally thought that she was the only one on the mountain. They looked like goblins but their skin was white like the snow under foot, no doubt thicker considering it appeared they didn't mind the cold. They also wore dark black clothes which she found strange and in her hands, they held crude weapons that promised much pain to come.

One of them suddenly let out a terrible shriek, evidently a signal to attack, and he ran towards the female.

Ren ignored the fact that her lower face was freezing as she pried her other dagger free from its place at her hip, using it to block the rusty blade the creature swung at her. The she-elf pushed him back and he swung wide at her again but she ducked out of the way of his blade, having to hop a few times to the side given her legs were still trapped in her sleeping pouch, and rammed her weapons up into his gut. The others, now outraged by their comrade's death, also attacked. The second, she moved underneath his blade and stabbed her knife into his thigh and he fell to his knees before she plunged her other dagger into his neck. The third she managed to push off the side of the mountain and he fell with a terrible cry, his body soon to break when it struck the ground far below. The last only glared at her for a long minute but as it moved to lung forward, she simply drew both her arms back over her shoulders and soon both the knives were buried in his chest. He fell to the ground, dead.

She took a deep breath to steady herself, letting everything play through her head given that it had all happened so fast.

The elf couldn't help but groan slightly, realizing now that she would have to be more carefully when sleeping on the mountain because evidently, she wasn't the only creature to roam the cliffs.

With a grimace upon her face, the elf gave a sharp jerk of her weapons, pulling them free from the goblin's body. Taking a hold of his worn coat in her gloved fingers, she wiped the black blood off the smooth metal, a grimace upon her face as she did so. Straightening up, she twirled the daggers expertly in her fingers before she put them back into their sheaths.

Rolling up her sleeping pouch, she stuffed it back into the bottom of her bag before slinging both her rucksacks over her shoulders and proceeding to follow along the path, leaving the blood stained ground behind her.

She traveled on foot for many minutes before the road once again lay crumbled and broken before her, now a steep drop off lying where the path should have been.

Making sure that both packs were in place, she once again stuck her fingers into the crevices and began her ascent upward, much to her dismay. It was at this time that Ren was finally grateful for being born an elf given the way that she easily picked along the rocks just as she used to do with the smaller mallorn trees in Lothlorien.

However, everyone grows tired in the end, especially when ascending the Valar's cursed mountain. And just like the day before, Ren climbed until she no longer could and rested and ate when she found a suitable spot.

She also ran into more trouble along the way, which surprised her really. There were a number of things that seemed out for her blood, ranging from large mountain cats to more white goblins to even a great vulture that swooped down at her through the blizzard. Usually she wasn't harmed or only received minor injuries from these instances, the worst coming from the encounter with the mountain cat in which she had accumulated a good smack to the head when the creature had knocked her off her feet, sending her tumbling into a boulder where her skull connected with the stone. However, this didn't do much to deter the elf. It just more or less made her very angry.

She, strangely enough, even stumbled upon a troll when she had found a piece of the road again.

The ugly brute had chased her back the way she had come but the elleth had been fortunate enough to find a small cave which she wriggled into, sufficiently escaping from his grubby fingers. It had been very small, more of a hole in the rock than a cave. It was barely large enough to hold her and her things, but she was thankful she had found it, what with the troll's thick digits reaching in after her. He had eventually given up his hunt and after waiting what felt like hours to move, the female had stuck her head back out into the cold and gathering her courage, she wielded her two handed sword and ventured out, ready to cut down the creature should he choose to come at her again but he was, strangely enough, missing. This caused her both relief and unease.

It was easy to see, though, that she was uneasy but she had good reason for that.

Often enough, when she was either being chased or she was fighting one of her attackers, she often heard voices, voices that sounded like that of the Company members. Such things as run!, hold your ground!, or even this way, you fools! could be heard swimming in her head.

When she usually emerged onto the path, she would be walking along for awhile and then somebody would pass her, lightly bumping shoulders as they went. Ren would only stare wide eyed at them, easily recognizing the back of their clothes they wore, given that she had spent much time gazing at their backs during their journey. The group members usually didn't stay with her long and usually blew away suddenly in the freezing winds like snow.

Strangely enough, some of them would, at times, fall into step with her. Usually these consisted of the dwarves that she was closer with.

Teach us more elvish, Ren!

Fili and Kili were the ones she saw most often that stopped to walk beside her, wanting to chat endlessly on with her about everything and anything. However, before she would get a chance to speak much with them, they would simply vanish, just as the others did.

Other than the brothers, the rest of the Company usually only came alone. For instance, Dwalin had come out of the snow behind her, his hood drawn up to protect himself from the weather, and passed her by, only turning back slightly to grin at her and give a call of, "Keep up, princess!"

Both Bofur and Ori were frequently walking with her as well but not in the same instance.

The dwarf will the silly hat seemed to be the one to linger with her the longest, for what reason, she didn't know. The young scribe would often just walk along at her side, holding his journal to his chest as she plodded along, content to travel in silence with him.

Even Gandalf and Bilbo spoke to her or simply walked at her side.

There was a terrifying moment one time where Ren was once again picking her way along the side of the mountain, when she suddenly felt something tug on her pack and when she looked over her shoulder, she saw that the halfing was hanging on for dear life. She of course cried out with fear but when she reached for him, he simply disappeared into the snow just like the others.

The times that Thorin would appear often snuck up on her and came out of nowhere. These were usually the most frequent ones.

For not many men like such a sharp tongue and an independent personality like your own even if you do have a pretty face. Were the first words he had spoken to her and the elf had only stared, knowing that she had had this conversation with him before. They like to take quiet maidens as wives.

He appeared quite often and usually said words that she had already heard.

You have been and always will be welcome in my Company... You have to promise that you will be more careful...You would be safe within Erebor...You have no idea how much I care about you...For I know not what you see in me, for I am not tall like that of a man or elf. Why is it I that is so graced with your affections?...You are... immensely beautiful...How dare you believe that someone else could own my heart when it so rightfully belongs to you...I love you.

It was then after hearing all those phrases and having them repeated as she walked along the path, that she realized that the dwarf was not speaking to her in that moment. These were memories.

Not only were the Valar assaulting her with the weather and the dangerous creatures that dwelt upon the mountain but they were now taunting her with her own memories? She had never heard of something so cruel before.

She took it as a sign though, a sign that she was getting closer to the top. And she was.

Only two more cycles of her climbing until exhausted then eating and sleeping passed before the freezing weather seemed to warm a bit. She also soon came upon the path again, this section in better condition than the rest, and the snow began to thin.

She was nearing her point of exhaustion again when she had found the road and something told her that she was almost there.

And all of a sudden, the blizzard around her stopped.

Ren herself had frozen in place when it happened, for she did not know what it meant. The silence around her was very foreign to her ears given that she had not heard it in so long.

Adjusting her bags about her shoulders, she pulled her scarf down from her face and pushed her hood back before she continued forward, her left hand lazily resting upon the hilt of her sword.

Since the path was intact, she didn't have to climb any further and instead walked along, much like she had planned to do in the very beginning of her mountain journey.

There was one point where she had stepped up, her head now level with seemingly the ceiling of clouds and her head had poked up above them, causing her face to be bathed in the golden glow of both suns. The elleth gasped out loud as she did this, for she knew that she had most certainly reached the top. And she was immensely thankful for that. For you see, she had ran out of food and water about three cycles ago, leaving her stomach to rumble all day and night.

Galaren couldn't help but feel a bit of apprehension flood her system but it was almost accompanied by a bit of...giddiness?

I actually made it to the top! Her thoughts had caused her to beam widely and even a small, disbelieving squeak came from her throat. However, that smile would fall and serious would take giddiness's place as she rounded the next corner.

Before her, in the very center of the path, stood a huge being dressed in a full suit of silver armor, helmet and all. In his hands, he held a long sword, one that gleamed brightly in the golden sunlight. He stood in the center of a large, golden archway. A guard, no doubt.

Maybe he is friendly... The she-elf thought to herself as she continued towards him, her left hand still upon her sword hilt.

"Halt." He had called to her and she did as she said, his voice causing her to nearly jump from her skin. She stalled in place and looked at him for a long moment. "Who goes there?"

She hesitated in answering his question, wanting to make sure that her voice was even and did not shake given the fear she was feeling. "Galaren, daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel, Lord and Lady of Lothlorien."

The man did not respond as he stood there and Ren wasn't even entirely sure that he was a man. She didn't know what he was but she did know he was big. As big as Beorn big but covered in armor.

"Excuse me?" She spoke up but the man still did not move or even respond for that matter. "Can I just... slip inside you know? To have a talk with the Lords and Queens...?"

"None shall pass." He stated, shifting his grip on his weapon.

The she-elf only stared at him for a long moment before she felt her anger begin to take hold of her. Ignoring his words, she strode to the side of him and moved to pass under the arch but she yelped and jumped back when he swung his large blade at her.

Out of reflex, she drew her own weapon and bared it towards him, ready to defend herself should he attack.

"None shall pass." The knight repeated his words, only stirring her temper more. And yet, he made no other move to attack. The elf knew, however, that should she try to get by him again, she would have to fight her way through.

She gazed at him with her sapphire eyes for a moment, feeling her rage swell inside her. "You've got to be kidding me!" She shouted, lowering her sword in disbelieving anger. "I climb all this way up this damned mountain in the bloody freezing wind and snow!" She wildly flailed her arms above her head, her sword doing so as well. "Only to be attacked by goblins and trolls and big cats and now I'm being stopped by some oversized...imbecile when all I want to do is talk to-"

The knight turned his head to the side as if someone was speaking to him.

"You may pass." He interrupted her rant, causing her to freeze, her arms and sword still raised above her head.

"Oh." The elleth composed herself, lowering her arms and sheathing her sword. She then straightened out her clothes and ran her hands over her hair, which had been braided by Celebrian for old time's sake. She wanted to look presentable for the Valar after all. "Thank you, good sir."

He stepped to the side and she strode passed him, feeling a bit of smugness settle into her chest. Incompetent, big oaf.

She didn't have to go far as she walked beneath the towering arch, only for her to step into a wide, circular courtyard. She paused for a moment and looked around her. She counted fifteen thrones that lay spread out around the edge of the couryard, all of which were occupied except for one to her left. Her eyes briefly flickered across the faces of the people seated in the immaculate thrones, her eyes easily recognizing one of the fourteen.

She shrugged out of the straps of her bags and she placed them beside the stone pillar of the arch before she slowly walked forward. Seven Lords and seven Queens. She told herself in her head, having taken note of their numbers. So, these must be the Valar.

In the center of the courtyard, their lay a large circular pool. However, through the center, their lay a t-shaped walkway with the longer leg of the three lying right before her.

The elf walked along cautiously, feeling the Gods' burning gazes upon her the entire time.

She came to a stop just at the intersection of the walkway and raised her eyes up to look at the fair haired being seated in the most immaculate throne before her, a simple, golden crown upon his head.

"Welcome, Galaren." He spoke to her suddenly then, causing her eyes to widen and her body to jolt alert in fear. The large man only smiled down at her, finding it amusing that she was so frightened even though they essentially meant her no harm. "We've been expecting you."

The sound of gravel crunching under foot alerted him that someone was approaching, though, even then, he did not look up. Even when they sank down at his side, he failed to even turn his head and yet, he knew exactly who the dwarf at his side was.

It was quiet between the two of them for along time, both still grieving the fallen woman who lay before them.

"Why didn't she tell me?" The exiled King spoke quietly, breaking the silence between them. This shocked his companion a bit, given that he thought he wouldn't get the dwarf lord to speak at all. "Why didn't she tell me she was sick?"

"She didn't want to worry you." The white haired dwarf replied quietly as he looked down at the elf before him. She looked so peaceful then, just as if she were asleep. "Something tells me that she felt she had the situation under control and something just went bad."

The King was quiet again for a long moment, simply staring down at her face, willing her sapphire eyes to flutter open and look up at him. He cared not if it was with hate or loathing or love or sadness. He just wanted her to look at him again.

"Why her?" He asked his friend the impossible question, one that was extremely difficult to answer in his companion's opinion.

"Everyone has their time, Thorin. You know that."

"But why did her time have to be now?!" The dwarf's voice was stronger now and increased in volume as he spoke. "Why, when we are this close to the blasted mountain?! After I just gave her my heart?!"

His friend was quiet for a long moment, listening as the rain continued to fall from the sky. It had long ago grown dark and the only light around them was the fire flickering across the way. The rest of the Company had since gathered around and had half-heartedly prepared a simple meal of dried meat, cheese, and bread.

For on that night, Bombur didn't feel like cooking.

"The universe works in strange ways." He finally replied, looking back to the group and watching as many of them barely picked at their food. "Is there ever any reason for someone so good dying?"

Silence settled between them again, for neither of them entirely knew what to say.

"You know that we must move onto the mountain in the morning." Balin told him eventually, his tone careful as he reached out to place his hand upon his friend's shoulder.

"I know longer care about Erebor. No amount of gold in Middle Earth will ever satisfy me." The dwarf's words caused his companion to openly gape upon hearing this ill news.

"Thorin-"

"I only wanted it for her." His tone was quiet once again, soft and full of barely contained sorrow. "In the beginning, I wanted it for myself like the selfish bastard I am." His companion frowned slightly at his words. "But then, she came along... and I came to want it for her." The King raised his head up and a distant look shone in his eyes. "I wanted to lead her by the hand into the mountain. I wanted to walk with her among my halls. I wanted to share it all with her." He swallowed thickly, feeling the despair building in his chest again. Looking back down at her, he carefully brushed his knuckles against her cold cheek. "I wanted to give her a home, one that she would proudly call her own because out of all of us, she's the one who deserves it most."

The King took a shuddering breath then and his eyes glassed over with tears as he looked down at where his larger hand held her own, his jeweled ring shinning up at him. The ring that he would have given her.

"I would have married her, Balin." He breathed and for a moment he wondered if the white haired dwarf even heard him. He assumed that he had when he felt the hand upon his shoulder give him a comforting squeeze.

"I know that this is not what you want to hear...especially after your crushing loss but the mountain stands just there." The white haired dwarf pointed his hand off into the distance where the Lonely Mountain lay.

The dark haired dwarf slowly shook his head. "I already told you-"

"Is this what you think she would want?" Thorin stopped short when he heard Balin's words and the harshness upon which he spoke them with. "Would she want you sitting around and crying over her?" The dwarf lord sniffed quietly, lifting his head in pride.

He shook his head again. "No."

"No is right. She would want you to take back Erebor. She would want you to proudly sit upon that throne, with or without her by your side." He saw something flicker in the King's eyes. "She would have wanted you to take back our home so that your people could dwell there once again. All because she loved you, laddie."

"You're right." He straightened up from his hunched position slightly. "She would want me to take back the mountain. She would not want me, sitting here, weeping over her like a child."

"She needs to have a proper burial." Both dwarves looked up to find the elf prince standing above them, his arms crossed of his chest. He had snuck up on them and had been listening to their conversation for sometime.

Thorin only gazed at him for a long moment before his eyes slowly hardened. "She will."

"Her body should also be wrapped to try and preserve it." Legolas told them before he slowly lowered himself to his knees at the female's side, a hint of sadness lingering in the depths of his own blue irises. "And I would like a few words alone with my wife."

"She is not your wife." The dwarf lord argued right back at him, his tone dangerously icy as he raised his blazing eyes to look at the elven princeling.

"There is a ring upon her finger that says otherwise." The elf fired right back.

"Please," Thorin let a bitter laugh scape his lips, finding the whole situation to be rather amusing, "Your betrothal was forced upon her and if she didn't accept, your father would have had us killed."

This caused the blond to bristle slightly, not liking how the dwarf was talking back to him.

"Even if that is true, I still cared for her."

"But she held no love for you, I can promise that." The dark haired dwarf explained, one corner of his mouth pulling upward in a snarl. He cared not if his words were cruel for he only felt bitterness in his heart. The thought of Ren ever being with another man caused something dangerous to bloom in his chest. "She took advantage of your friendship to help us escape Thranduil's halls. She played you like a fiddle."

The prince only looked back down at the elleth, taking in her deathly pale features and the way her hands lay limp at her sides. Oh, how he just wished to see her smile and laugh again.

"And I suppose I let her." Legolas replied quietly. "I knew from the start that she was in league with you. But even then I refused to tell my father." The elf sighed deeply through his nose. "Because I cared about her."

He reached out to take hold of her hand but was surprised when the dwarf suddenly lifted her corpse into his arms and rose from his seated position, his jaw clenched and his teeth gritted.

"YOU. WILL. NOT. TOUCH. HER!" The dwarf bellowed, causing the entire group to look back at him. In his eyes, there lay a dark and dangerous glint, one that dared anyone to come closer and just try and lay a finger upon her cold body.

Balin could only stare at Thorin with his mouth slightly open in horror. For the way that he so possessively held onto her and the way that his face darkened reminded him so much of how Thror used to look when others were around his gold.

"I know what you are thinking, elf." The King spat the title, clutching her body tightly to his chest, her face lying in the crook of his neck. "I know that you think you can take her."

"She deserves to be buried with her people." Legolas replied calmly, not wanting to anger the dwarf further, seeing as how he saw madness beginning to bloom behind his eyes.

"No." He chuckled darkly. "She will be buried in the mountain."

"Thorin!" Balin drew his friend's gaze for a moment, his eyes flashing with panic. "We are still far from the mountain, more than a week away! We have yet to even find the door. Her body… It will not last that long!" The dwarf lord only gazed back at his white haired companion with darkened eyes. "Perhaps we could bury her here and then make a memorial-"

"SHE WILL BE BURIED BENEATH THE MOUNTAIN!" He shouted, his voice cracking slightly as he did so. "And you will not question me because I AM KING UNDER THE MOUNTAIN!" The dwarf lord turned sharply to face the elf, taking note that the redheaded female also joined him. "And you." He sneered at the two of them. "You will leave when the storm has passed and not linger any longer. For you are on my land and this is the only time you will ever receive my kindness." He moved to go sit further off to the side. "We make for the mountain at dawn." He called back over his shoulder before he lumbered away, slowly sinking to his knees once again with the elvish maiden still in his arms.

Dwalin, who had watched the entire ordeal, exchanged a terrified look with his brother. It was almost as if the gold sickness was already starting to fester even though they weren't even close to the mountain!

It's happening already…? The tattooed dwarf raised his brow before he let his gaze lower to the seemingly sleeping female. She kept his mind off the mountain and the gold. Now that she's gone though, all he wants is the treasure and the power it brings. He watched as Thorin ran his hand through the elleth's blonde hair, a soft look in his eyes. Her death...is going to drive him mad.

Standing before them all, she could only allow her gloved hands to fidget with the buttons on her coat, her nerves getting the best of her. She couldn't help but suddenly feel like little Bilbo in that instant. Poor creature was always nervous about everything. "You've been waiting for me?"

"Yes. Aulë delivered us your message." The great, fair haired man before her rumbled.

The she-elf paled in realization when she remembered her own words. For you see, now standing face to face with the Gods was more intimidating than you can possibly imagine. The unwavering confidence she had before was slowly diminishing.

"Oh. I-I didn't mean what I said-"

"We all thought it was endearing, little one." One of the others spoke up; a long, dark haired haired female seated off to her left. "It's not everyday when someone threatens the Valar."

Varda. Something whispered to her in the back of her mind.

"I wasn't threatening! I was just wanting to say that I was on my way so I didn't pop in unexpectedly like a bad guest-" She began to ramble nervously but was once again interrupted.

"We've been watching you longer than you realize, little elf." Another spoke up, a dark haired male off to her right.

Tulkas. The voice came again.

"Some of us have been watching you since you entered Valinor-" Another female spoke to her right. Vairë.

"-And some have been watching you since before then." A second woman picked up from where she had left off, causing Ren's head to snap to the side. Nessa.

"You are most intriguing to all of us." The light haired man spoke down to her again, leaning down from his high throne to get a better look at her. "It's not everyday someone, especially a child, defies us."

Her sapphire eyes widened. "I'm-I'm sorry! I-I didn't-"

"No, no, little elf." He held his hand out, a small smile appearing on his lips when he saw how bashful she suddenly was. "You've been very entertaining to watch."

Ren narrowed his eyes at him before letting them flicker to the rest of the Gods.

"Everyone keeps saying that. 'You're entertaining. You're intriguing to watch.'" She felt annoyance begin to creep into her replacing the fear she once felt. "Is that all this is to you? Entertainment?" She slowly turned back, allowing her eyes to connect with the rest of them. "That people's lives are just some sort of game?"

"Have we offended you, Lady Galaren?" One of the males asked, a small smile pulling up the corners of his mouth. Ulmo.

"No, I suppose not." She chose her words carefully, knowing that she needed to have the Gods on her side if she wanted to return. "I'm just saying that I would think the Valar would be more compassionate…"

"Well, when you've done this for millennia…" She recognized this voice and turned to face Aulë. He was giving her an imploring look, tell her silently to behave for once. "You tend to grow a bit bored and need to find a… story to follow to yes, in fact, keep you entertained."

"We rarely ever interfere with people's lives unless absolutely necessary." A soft spoken female interjected, one that was seated beside the Smith. Yavanna.

"Just like one of you interfered with mine?" Ren snapped and the fair haired man shook his head, his strangely white eyes glowing as he looked down upon her.

"No one interfered with your life, Galaren." He told her, drawing her gaze from the woman. "You simply just did not die."

"You are very special." Aulë told her honestly, his eyes softening as he looked at her. Please behave when speaking to them. They can be very grumpy. "You are only one of the few who've done so."

Just like I'm one of the few to have climbed your damned mountain. The elf growled to him in her mind, a disgruntled look covering her face as she slowly let her eyes trickle back to the brunet Lord.

"No doubt you come to us bearing questions." The blond man spoke again and the elleth only gazed at him for a long moment, her eyes narrowing slightly on his form.

"Manwë…" The name slipped from her lips after a few long seconds of staring, the name just suddenly coming to her mind, just like the others had. The man only beamed at her in response. Evidently, she was right. "I do have many questions."

"Well, before you start asking, let us simply tell you." He offered to her, raising one of his brows and smiling slightly. Ren did not reply and instead bobbed her head in answer to his question.

"Just like you have been told, you were not meant to live passed one year of life." She nodded again, already knowing this part of the story. "And if you would have died like it was planed, Middle Earth would be very different. For you see, a different story had been written, one that did not have you as one of the characters." Manwë looked back to the blonde elf and found that her brow was furrowed softly and she was about to open her mouth to ask something but he held his hand up. "But do not fear, little one. This story that has you written in is equally as pleasing as the other, if not a little more dramatic."

As his words churned inside her head, Ren felt as though she were going to be sick for a moment. How these ethereal beings played with their lives and destinies was disgusting and in her mind, should only be given to those who are responsible.

However, images of the Company flashed into her mind and she slowly let her head raise so that she were looking back at the God.

"My lord, Manwë..." She began slowly, wanting to phrase her words correctly as to appeal to him. "Would it… be so bold to ask that you add a few more pages to my book?"

"You want to be sent back?" She nodded her head in answer to his question. The God looked at her for a long moment, contemplating what exactly he was going to do with her. He rubbed his chin in thought as he narrowed his eyes. He supposed that with Galaren, the tale would be even more interesting once again. Perhaps the tale would change again. He had yet to tell her but every time she made a decision, her story would change but all the other souls in Middle Earth, their story did not change as often as hers did. However, he supposed that if she were to die now, that it was meant that her story was to be finished for good.

Instead, he turned his head and looked down the line to find the white haired youth sitting upon his own throne. "It is for Námo to decide." The King of the Valar told her, deciding to actually let his younger brother do his job for once.

I suppose it is fitting. Ren grumbled internally to herself as she watched the thin boy get up from his throne and walk down the steps towards her. The Judge of the Dead should be the one to try me after all...

The pale teenager walked out onto the t-shaped walkway, coming to circle around her, his hands clasped behind his back. His long, dark gray clothes dragged upon the stones beneath foot as he walked along. His silver eyes were intently trained upon the female, assessing her and reading her energies.

He stopped just before her then and raised his head before clenching his jaw. "No."

"NO!?" Her voice went up a few octaves when she heard his answer. Her sapphire irises went wide as well as she openly gapped back at him, her fists clenching at her sides. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO!?" She stepped forward and nearly shouted in his face. He didn't respond for a moment and she felt something begin to crumble inside of her when she saw his unwavering emotions in his eyes. "You don't understand, I need to get back! There's so much I have to do and-and I climbed up the mountain like I was told!"

"Indeed, you did." Manwë murmured, shooting an annoyed look at Aulë who only shrunk back into his seat. "But I'm afraid I cannot grant you this wish."

"But… why?" She asked quietly, a feeling of hopelessness settling in her heart. "What have I done wrong?" She asked Námo who said nothing as he went back to his seat. Allowing her head to drop, she struggled to fight back the tears of frustration that formed in her eyes. She rubbed at her eyes with the backs of fists, just like she used to when she was a child. "I have only ever done good…" She whispered defeatedly as more moisture poured from her eyes. "It's not fair."

"Your mortal lives are not fair." One of the other Vala called and at hearing this, her head snapped up and anger flooded into her veins. Oromë.

"What must I do?" She asked him then, stepping towards Manwë and down into the pond, water lapping at the fabric of her thighs. She did not care about her now wet clothing. "What must I do to get you to send me back?" Her tone had a pleading edge to it.

It was quiet for a moment, the man looking down upon her from his throne. "Tell me, Galaren. Why do you want to go back to Middle Earth so badly?" He let his eyes flicker over to Irmo, knowing that his brother knew the answer to his question. He knew what everyone desired.

The blonde elf looked around at the others for a long moment before she licked her lips and swallowed her nerves.

"I'm in love." She admitted out loud to all them. Irmo slowly blinked his eyes as he watched her, looking completely uninterested with the subject at hand though she wasn't lying.

"With who?"

"Thorin Oakenshield." The elf responded without batting an eye. Of course, all the others already knew this as well, for they had all watched her perish in the arms of the man she so loved.

"The one who wants to be King Under the Mountain." Manwë finished for her, already knowing exactly who the dwarf was. The fair haired Vala looked at her for a long moment, turmoil churning behind his eyes.

"Please." She said quietly, taking another step forward and sloshing through the pond. "Please, let me go back. I've never wanted anything more in my entire life."

Letting his eyes flicker over to Irmo, he watched as his brother's hand clenched slightly, an interested spark suddenly entering his eyes as he watched the young elf before him.

"Are you so sure you wish to return?" The King murmured, leaning down towards her on his throne.

"Yes." She answered immediately.

"Look into the Water." He pointed down at the pond she was currently standing in. She looked up at him questioningly.

"I'm-I'm sorry but I can't. My Sight was-"

"Just look." Manwë told her, his tone just a bit harsher this time but as she gazed back at him, she knew that something was suddenly different inside of her.

Taking a deep breath, she clenched her fists and allowed her eyes to drop from the Lord's eerie white pair until they settled upon her clear reflection that was gazing back up at her.

Slowly, she felt the world around her fade to black as she was engulfed by the vision.

Forcing her eyes open, she was no longer standing in the circular courtyard, surrounded by the Valar. Instead, she was standing on what appeared to be a battle ground.

All around her, their were creatures fighting. Orcs, goblins, Wargs, eagles, elves, men, and dwarves seemed to fight against one another, all of them seemingly on their own side.

Multiple bodies already littered the ground around her and more and more fell every second she stood there.

She could only watch with furrowed brows as the fighting beings moved around and even through her. For she did not really stand upon the battle ground. Instead, she was only a ghost and could do nothing to stop the battle.

And in the blink of an eye, she was back in the courtyard.

A loud gasp escaped her throat and she felt her pupils return to their normal size. The she-elf panted slightly as she struggled to regain her breathing, having not noticed that she hadn't been breathing beforehand.

"War?" She managed to speak between breaths. "There's a war coming?"

"One that warriors shall tell their grandchildren about for decades to come." Tulkas told her, sitting up straighter in his own throne.

Ren only thought about this for a long moment, her chest still heaving from the lack of air. "What if I stop it?" She proposed to them, causing a number of the Valar to lean forward in their seats. "What if I can stop the war?"

"It's inevitable, I'm afraid." Manwë told her quietly. "Many will die."

"But that's in the story without me." The gears in her mind began to mesh together. She may have some leverage upon them now. "The story will change and the war could be avoided if I live."

"We won't know until we try...?" Aulë offered, causing him to be on the receiving end of the a mighty glare.

"Silence, Brother." The King snapped, his hands grasping tightly to the arms of his chair in anger. He, however, turned his gaze back on the young female and his eyes slowly softened. "I'm sorry, Galaren. The answer is still no."

"But-"

"Go live out spend eternity in peace beside your beloved sister." He raised his hand and suddenly there was a huge gush of wind, one that threatened to knock her over. "Do not ask us again."

"NO!" The elf replied in protest, using her arms to block some of the wind. She grit her teeth and rushed forward then, splashing through the water towards the King of the Valar. "No! Wait-"

But she never got a chance to finish. For in that moment, she just disappeared into a black, twisting shape.

The next thing she knew, she was falling. Rapidly.

She felt the air whipping around her body as she plummeted towards the ground, her body turning head over heels as she did so, causing her entire body to fold and unfold in a messy clump of hair and clothes.

Then, all of a sudden, she slammed impossibly hard into the ground.

All the oxygen immediately whooshed from her lungs and she could only lay there, back arched and mouth agape in almost a silent scream as she struggled to get her breathing back under control. She writhed around on the hard ground for a moment, struggling to get air into her lungs. Chocking and gasping, it took a few long minutes to where she could finally lay back on the ground, though she still found the air in her lungs to be a bit short.

And when she was finally able to breathe deeply, she felt an uncontrollably rage settle into her chest.

She turned over on her stomach, still looking like a fish who was out of water as she tried to suck as much air as she could down. After a slip second, she was clamoring to her feet, pushing her wild hair back from her face so that she could see and she sent a venomous glare back up towards the mountain.

A wild fury sparked to life in her chest, as did an unyielding hatred for the Valar.

Her chest heaved for an entirely different reason again and her sapphire eyes were alight with blue fire, her pupils flickering over the mountain before her, not entirely sure what she was going to do but she felt as though she could spit flames if she really wanted to.

"I'll show you." She warned them quietly, her voice quacking with emotion. "It is not wise to underestimate me."

She suddenly heard a rumble in the distance and she turned her head to watch as lightning flickered across the sky, just east of her position. The she-elf couldn't help but furrow her brow, an idea suddenly coming into her mind as she watched the storm roll across the sky.

"The Valar don't even venture there..." She recalled Arathorn's words and murmured them to herself. She briefly let her eyes turn back to the mountain before they fixed themselves upon the east. "What's got them so scared?"

More thoughts and ideas bubbled into the forefront of her mind and she felt a dark smirk suddenly pull back one corner of her mouth. Perhaps if the Gods wouldn't send her back, she would have to make them.

Turning on her heel, she began to sprint towards the mountainous range in the distance, knowing that whatever lay there, she would have to befriend it. For she needed something to hold against the Valar, whether it be good or bad she wasn't sure but she knew she would use it.

Back to her normal, untiring self, she managed to get to the distant mountains in little under an hour and she immediately began to climb up the stone wall, a short cut, she told herself. She wasn't going to waist another whole day following the valley back and then proceeding back into the northeast section of the fork in the path.

She reached the top in record breaking time and before she knew it, she was already descending the mountain and lowering herself into the deep valley below.

However, just as placed her feet upon solid ground, she heard a terrible shrieking noise overhead and could only watch with wide eyes as a huge, shadowed form flew over her and she instantly recognized the beast.

It was enormous in size and it was a fiery bronze in color. The wind caused by its wings nearly knocked her over every time they cut through the air. Its roar was nearly earsplitting but the she-elf didn't flinch as she watched it soar through the air.

"Dragons." She murmured, in disbelief. "They're afraid of dragons." Evidently the beast caught her scent or heard her quiet voice because it suddenly turned its head and caught sight of her, it's glowing eyes narrowing into slits. "Oh no."

The woman turned then and began to run up the dark path, frantically looking for a place to hide but she doubted it would do much. She only imagined that it was a fire-drake, given the warmer colors of its scales so even if she found a place to hide, what with a little fire, a cave could become an oven.

She didn't get far before the beatings of its wings where loud in her ears and the elf only pumped her arms faster. It was all for naught though when she felt talons close around her and with a yelp, she was lifted effortlessly into the air, now helpless in the creature's grasp. She could only hold onto the talons that held her almost... gently?

The two of them flew through the air, soaring over the valley far below.

Perhaps there is only one dragon... She thought to herself as she lightly grasped onto the dragon's claws. It was just a precaution incase she somehow slipped from the creature's grasp.

Her assumptions were, however, proven wrong when a few of the others beasts flew up into the air a good distance away. Some also lumbered about far below, some of them in packs, others by themselves.

The dragon that had hold of her suddenly swooped lower and dropped her down into a mountain that had a hole in the top.

With scream escaping her throat, the she-elf's feet soon met hard ground once again and she grit her teeth as she waited for the pain to come but she felt none. She was still immortal it seemed.

The female suddenly heard a low rumble come from behind her and she turned, her eyes searching the dark cavern around her, the only light source provided was the opening in the stone above her, therefore basking her in light.

Ren didn't have to look hard though, for she soon met a pair of glowing amber eyes through the darkness. She was soon able to make out the shape of the beast, given that his chest and neck started to glow orange with concealed flames, signaling that it was also a fire-drake. More dragons soon followed, all of their eyes glowing eerily in the darkness surrounding her.

The beasts curled and writhed upon each other, all of them wanting to catch a glance at the new but tiny creature that stood before them. None of them were lunging or snapping their jaws at her. Yet.

There was suddenly another deafening shriek and the bronze dragon landed inside the mountain, gracefully coming to curl around the female, its chest and nostrils burning with heat as it brought its face closer to her.

Galaren couldn't help but take a few steps back, holding her hands out to show that she was of no harm and wasn't a threat, despite the fact that the dragon was many times larger than her.

"Aren't you just a delicious little thing?" The beast cooed, its eyes glowing as it stared intently at her with what appeared to be a smirk upon its face. The woman could only stare back at the beast, her sapphire eyes wide with fear. Any moment, she knew the dragon could suddenly snap and she would be no more. "But, what are you?"

Riddles. The elleth reminded herself as she licked her lips in preparation to speak. They like riddles.

She cleared her throat, letting her eyes briefly flicker to the other drakes present. All of them had fixed hungry gazes upon her. "I'm not sure what I am but I know what I'm not."

The bronze dragon looked thoughtful for a moment and drew its head back. "And what are you not?"

Ren paused a moment. "Hungry."

A deep rumbling sounded all throughout the cave, for the dragons were chuckling at her answer. Looking around at them, she watched as a few of the beasts lessened their harsh gazes now.

"What else are you not?"

"A dragon." Another round of deep laughter.

"That is obvious, little one." The bronze beast drew its lips back as if smiling at her. It then bent down to her level and sniffed her. "You reek of Northerners and dwarves." It told her and then suddenly, its sticky tongue was running upon along her face and body, effectively coating her bare skin in slime. "But you taste of elf."

The female shivered slightly and grimaced before she raised her gloved hand up to wipe at the mess upon her face. "I am indeed an elf but I have many, many friends."

"Not friends of dragon nature I see." The beast rumbled, moving forward to press its warm snout to her torso, meaning to motion to the weapons around her waist and upon her shoulders. "Are you a Hunter?"

"No! I'm not a hunter!" The she-elf protested immediately, holding her hands to show that she was still no harm.

"Then why do you bare weapons as such?"

"I-" She never got a chance to explain as the whole mountain shook suddenly and the room darkened as something covered the opening above them.

Looking upward, Ren only took note of the silhouette above them, the creature obviously being another dragon, this one very much as large as the bronze one that stood before her.

"I smell flesh!" The drake growled before it slipped into the cave, flying around the cavern before it came to land just before the bronze dragon who was still partially wrapped around the seemingly tiny elf.

All the dragons in the whole growled and hissed at the new arrival, all of them shrinking back from the beast that stood now just before her.

This drake, she could tell, was obviously different from the others. It's scales shown ghostly white in the pale light of the room and it had eerie, silver eyes that bore down into the female.

And it was the combination of the white scales and colorless eyes that set off familiarity in Ren. She did not say anything when she recognized him but she did reach up and touched her cloth covered shoulder, her encounter coming back to her then.

"Silvran." One of the other dragons hissed, the rest of them poking their heads out into the stream of sunlight around her, all of them evidently displeased with the white dragon's presence.

"You don't belong here." Another spat, its chest beginning to glow with heat. "This isn't your territory."

The she-elf watched as the white drake only glared at the others for a long moment before he straightened up to his full size which towered over the rest of them. She wasn't stunned however when she watched the cracks between his scales on his chest glow an eerie blue.

All the others shrank back slightly, obviously intimidated by the large male.

His silver eyes flickered about the room, eyeing the other drakes before a slow smirk pulled at his lips. "Is it me or is it a bit warm in here?" The others didn't respond, just continued to watch him and suddenly there was blue fire being blown around the room.

Strangely enough, it was cold and the air was instantly freezing. The fire-drakes all hissed in fear and scrambled about, trying to escape the frost. The bronze dragon instantly wrapped its winged arm around Ren and pulled her against its side, protecting her from the icy flames as it backed away from the pale dragon.

"That's better, isn't it?" Came his rumbling voice and Ren carefully peeked out from behind the bronze dragon's wing, only to find the inside of the mountain nest was now covered in ice and frost.

"Leave before we kill you, Cousin." The bronze dragon warned with a deep growl, puffing his chest out with pride.

"You would love to do that, wouldn't you, Embris?" The cold-drake cooed back at the beast hiding her. He stopped smiling then, evidently tired of playing with his kin. "But I'm afraid that I cannot leave until you surrender the mortal you found to me."

"We have no fleshling." He growled, inconspicuously tightening his grip upon the female that still lingered there.

"You are a liar." Silvran spat at him, his chest swelling and glowing blue once again as his temper flared. "I can smell it: the fleshling's fear."

"Then, there must be another fleshling here." Ren stepped out suddenly from behind Embris's wing, wanting the rest of the drakes to be spared. They had done nothing wrong in her eyes. "Because I do not feel fear."

The dragon's brows rose in surprise when he saw the female, not knowing that it would be a lady and one with golden hair no less. "Are you so sure?" He purred, lowering his head so that it was on her level. He breathed a few flames at her and she raised her hands to protect her face. She first felt the heat upon her fingertips before it slowly turned to freezing cold until lastly, it just turned to a pleasant warmth. He was teasing her.

He only stared at her for a long moment and then recognition swept over him, easily remembering her jewel like eyes that he had admired so long ago. A slow smile spread across his lips and he lowered his head down to her level so that he could get a better view of her.

"Well, well, well. Look who finally met their demise." Silvran cooed at her and when he spoke, a bit of blue fire flickered out of his mouth though he was only doing it to scare her.

Ren only looked at her hands, wondering why she was not burnt to a crisp or frozen to death. Instead, she was just pleasantly warm.

"Who out lived who?" She taunted back after a moment, a dark smirk pulling back her own lips but her mind was elsewhere. She was still thinking about the strange fire.

The dragon straightened up and flared his nostrils, bits of snow coming from his nose as he did so. He was clearly displeased with her snarky attitude, recalling that she had had it too in their last meeting.

"You two know each other?" The bronze dragon asked, his interest peaking as he listened in on their conversation.

"She was the one who blinded me in my first life." The white drake admitted as he continued to stare down at her, bitterness evident in his voice. "Though she did not walk away unscathed." He grinned slightly and watched as the female absentmindedly reaching a hand up to hold her right shoulder, an old burning sensation tingling the skin there. "It's amazing how cold can burn like flames."

"I at least could see." Ren fired right back, clearly not enjoying his taunts. "Unlike you who slowly starved to death due to your handicap."

His silver eyes stared down at her for a long moment, displeased that she was there. "Why are you here, elf brat?" The white beast snapped, his chest still glowing in warning should she get too lipy.

"I need your help." She told him but she was also addressing the other dragons in the mountain.

His bellowing laugh echoed around the room and the elf covered her ears with her hands, gritting her teeth as the sound assaulted her eardrums. "You are already dead, girl." He growled, baring his teeth in a large grin. "What could I possibly do to help you?"

"First, off, you could start by telling me why the Valar don't come onto your territory."

The pale beast only looked at her for a long moment, his lips curling back in a sly smile. "It is because they fear us." He purred, loving the way those words sounded on his tongue. "It is because they fear our power."

"But why do they fear you?" She asked him, taking a small step forward. "For they are Gods and you are only... dragons."

"You forget that drakes were not born from any of their hands." He told her, his long tail quietly swishing across the ground behind him. "They are not our makers like they are yours. They hold little power over us."

"Dragons are evil though...?" The she-elf asked him, wrinkling her brow in confusion. "I was told that nothing foul dwells here."

"You were sadly misinformed." Silvran purred, allowing his neck to stretch so he towered above her. "Contrary to popular belief, all drakes have a pure soul." At hearing his words, her frown deepened. "You think us murderers when we kill humans but you do the same thing with hares and squirrels." He told her, exhaling deeply and sending bits of snow her way. "We do indeed covet gold but doesn't man, dwarf, and elf also?"

"You make valid points." Ren murmured, her eyes narrowing on the winged creature.

She suddenly heard a little squawk and she turned around, her eyes full of curiosity and she watched as a few smaller dragons peeked out from behind their parents' legs. They cooed and purred at her, their large eyes wide and so innocent. So full of naivety.

"Many of us have been slaughtered..." The white dragon told her, his own eyes softening slightly as he looked at the hatchlings. "Though we have done nothing wrong."

Ren could only stand there and watch as the younger creatures slowly crept out from behind the larger beasts, their nostrils flaring as they sniffed the air, curious about the elf before them. The little creatures slowly walked out into the light, curious about the new arrival but still wary of her.

It took them a few moments but soon the hatchlings were close enough for her to reach out. She held her hand out and the young dragons slowly approached her but them she wiggled her fingers slightly and the babies drew back, hissing quietly at her.

She stilled and one of the young ones grew brave, one that was was almost completely black in color and he had bright green eyes that seemed to glow in the sunlight just like the others did.

He inched forward until her gloved covered fingers just touched his nose and he sniffed at her more, allowing her whole palm to rest on his scaly snout.

The other hatchlings, having seen that she was of no harm, rushed forward to join their friend. The smaller creatures chirped and cooed at her as they rubbed up against her much like cats would and the she-elf could only laugh quietly.

"Why is it that you've taken suck an interest in us drakes?" He lowered his head so that it rested upon the ground just before her, the babies still writhing around her in pure bliss. She could feel the cold seeping off his large body and into the air around her but the younger dragons' smaller forms managed to radiate just as much heat.

"I'm defying the Valar." The elleth told him without hesitation, Silvran looked a bit impressed upon this realization, watching intently as the children continued to rub on her.

"You?" He asked her, an amused glint in his eyes. He once again brought his head down to her level, his snout coming dangerously close to her body. "Why are you defying your own Gods, little frostbite?"

"It's simple." She crossed her arms over her chest, leaving the hatchlings to still rub on her. "I don't want to be dead."

He grinned slyly. "I don't either yet here I am."

"You've been here awhile though." Ren replied, her blue eyes softening slightly with sadness. "Your body has long since decayed. I haven't been dead for long." She explained.

"So, you essentially want to reanimate your chilled corpse?" When he put it into this words, the elf couldn't help but curl her lip up slightly in disgust.

"Yes."

The beast seemed to ponder this for a long moment, his silvery eyes narrowing on her form. "What... do I get if I help you?"

The she-elf thought for awhile, not entirely sure what a dragon would want. And then a thought came to mind. "You can tell everything that you were the one to slay me." The white dragon seemed unimpressed with her answer, his face holding not a single flicker of interest. "You can spit some of your cold fire at the Valar?"

Now, this seemed to light something inside of him.

"It would bring me much pleasure to see the all mighty Gods reduced to trembling infants in their thrones..." He murmured, still eying the blonde woman. "It would very much please the Master."

Galaren allowed her own eyes to narrow, one final name coming to slip into the back of her mind just like all the others had.

"Morgoth."

The dragon only smiled at her and she knew she was right. "You always were a smart little thing." He stretched his great pale wings high above his head, letting a groan out of throat as he did so. "I knew why there was a reason why I let you live."

She sent a small glare his way. "Says the blind dragon."

He only chuckled before he lay one of his arms down on the ground, offering it to the female. She gazed at the drake for a long moment, worry written in her irises.

"Oh, come now, darling. Your body only gets colder the longer you stand there."

This urged her forward and she immediately began to climb up his scaly skin, still feeling a bit of apprehension, until she sat at the place where his head and his neck connected. She held onto the sharp points and ridges protruding from his skin in hopes that she wouldn't fall off.

As he had before, the dragon spread his great wings and then coiled his body like a cat would before it leapt before he pushed hard off the ground and took to the air.

Silvran soared straight up into the air, his ghostly wings beating rapidly to get his large body off the ground. The elf could only hold on the entire time, gritting her teeth as she contained a scared scream that threatened to escape her throat. She had decided that she would not give the drake the pleasure of hearing her voiced fear.

The sudden flapping of wings could be heard over the mountain and all the Gods raised their head out of pure curiosity. Nothing usually flew this high around the mountain. It was far too cold for birds.

The golden rays from the two suns slowly faded out as a thick shroud of dark clouds began to roll across the sky. The temperature around them quickly dropped as well and the Valar only exchanged worried and questioning looks, wanting to know the sudden reason for the storm clouds.

Their heads on swivels, they looked around at the churning sky and suddenly, the beating of wings was silenced.

It was quiet for a long moment and Manwë sat forward in his throne, his hands gripping tightly to the golden armrests. One by one, he met every single one of his siblings' eyes and it seemed as though it was none of their doing.

Without warning, there was a sudden flash of white and then a large crack could be heard, followed by a deafening roar.

All of the Gods let out yells of surprise as their eyes settled upon the large drake now standing in the destroyed pond, his thick talons having crushed the stone beneath him.

He snarled at them for a moment, his lips drawn back to reveal his long teeth and his chest slowly began to glow an eerie blue before he opened his jaw and out came blue flames.

The ethereal beings recoiled in their seats, for just like the rest of the souls down in Valinor, they also felt cold and heat but they had never before felt pain. They cried out in fear and some of them leapt from their places, the temperature around them fluctuating wildly as the dragon's fire rapidly changed from hot to freezing cold and back again.

"Silvran, enough!" A feminine voice called and the dragon did just as she commanded, though he did so begrudgingly.

All heads moved from their hidden positions behind their hands and they watched as the blonde elf slid from the beast's scaly back, her eyes hard with determination. Her feet came to rest upon the now icy ground, the water in the pond having froze when the cold-drake touched it.

Her eyes looked up at the Manwë and the Valar could only openly gape at the girl, disbelieving as to what they had just witnessed.

"Galaren." The King stood from his throne and regarded the she-elf with cold eyes. She only glared back at him, her own eyes dark with rage. "You were warned not to come back here."

"I know." She snapped at him as she rested her hand upon her sword. "I'm not deaf."

"Yet, here you are." He allowed his white eyes to flicker back to the dragon who was quietly growling behind her, vibrating the air around them with the noise. "And with a cold-drake no less."

"Don't mind him." Ren told them, folding her arms over her chest as a dark smirk curled her lips up. "He's only here for reassurance."

"Reassurance of what?"

The pale dragon let loose a mighty roar at that, one that shook the entire mountainside yet the female before him did not even flinch. "That you'll send me back."

"We already discussed this!" The Lord stepped down from his throne, towards her. "You cannot go back!"

"And who said that?" She growled at him, taking a few bold steps forward. The fair haired man towered over her but she did not care. She was in league with a dragon. She didn't care about much anymore.

The shifting of clothing could be heard and all heads turned to find that the youngest looking of their group had shifted nervously in his seat.

"That's right. It was you Námo." She walked toward him then, her arms now going to clasp behind her back. "You were the one who condemned me to an eternity of happiness here in Valinor."

"You were not meant to go back." Silvran let loose another deafening roar that caused all the Gods to recoil back in their seats.

"I don't care if I'm not meant to go back." She spat at him, slowly walking towards him as if she were a wildcat and was stalking her prey. "You are going to send me back anyway!"

The beast behind her suddenly growled and blue flames started lapping out between his teeth, threatening the younger Vala with frostbite should he continue to refuse her request.

"I-I can't! You don't underst..." He trailed off suddenly, his gray irises turning towards the sky and everyone present watched with interest as a bright white light suddenly beamed down upon them.

All gazed in awe at the beautiful, bright light and indiscernible whispers could be heard echoing throughout the courtyard. Even Silvran was quiet as he listened to them, his nostrils flaring slowly with interest.

It was quiet as they all listened to the hushed whisperings and then suddenly, they were gone but the beautiful light still remained shinning down upon the courtyard.

"Yes, Father." Námo was the only one who continued to stare up at the light, something strange shimmering in his normally dulled irises. "I will, Father." He bowed his head then and the light slowly dulled until the sky was dark once again.

"What was that?" Ren couldn't help but ask after a moment, seeing as how the Valar were all still shockingly quiet.

"Her fate has been changed." The Judge of the Dead murmured, his eyes looking to his elder brother then, a strange, almost horrified look upon his face. "She is to return to Middle Earth."

"What?" Manwë breathed in disbelief.

"Are you so sure?" Varda breathed from beside her husband, her bright eyes flashing with utter disbelief before she looked back at the female. "Her story was already laid out once."

The younger male furrowed his brow. "Father commands it."

"Ilúvatar...?" The she-elf breathed, her voice betraying just how astonished she herself was. She licked her lips before tilting her head ever so slightly to the side. "Eru?"

"She is to be sent back immediately." The God told his brother, ignoring her words though something told Ren that she was undeniably right in her assumption. "Now, actually."

"Now?!" The King breathed and Námo only nodded his head in answer.

The fair haired man turned back to look at the elleth who looked just as shocked as the rest of them but after a moment, she composed herself and placed the hard look back into her eyes, brushing her hair back from her face.

He sighed heavily, rubbing a hand over his face. "Very well." The Lord walked towards her, his eerie eyes set upon her and he reached a hand out.

"Wait!" She told him and the male recoiled his hand slightly, still wary of the dragon behind her. The blonde turned to the aforementioned beast, her eyes softening slightly as she gazed at him. "Thank you, Silvran." Her words were sincere. "I'm sorry that we did not meet on friendlier terms in our past lives."

"You were a worthy adversary, little frostbite." He purred down at her before he lowered his head and breathed a small bit of blue fire at her. She winced slightly, still ready for the cold or the heat but only felt the comfortable warmth pass over her again, the sensation causing her to smile as she felt as though she were being warmed from the inside. She let out a small, slightly feared laugh before she tentatively reached out and placed her gloved hand upon his snout.

"Perhaps we shall see each other again someday?" She asked him and the dragon smirked.

"I only hope so." He told her, chuckling darkly. "So that we can finish our little other worldly skirmish?" Shaking her head in disbelief for a moment, she couldn't help but smile at him. She then gave a single, affirmative nod of her head. "I shall be waiting then."

She turned back to the King then, a slow smirk spreading across her face when she thought about how much trouble she had caused them. She wouldn't be surprised if they all but hated her now but it was comforting to know that Eru was at least on her side. Ren could only hope that he would control his children. With a slow nod, she silently told him to send her back already but as he stepped forward, another voice cried out.

"Wait!" Ren had to contain the small growl that wanted to come from her mouth. Oh, how she wanted to get back. All heads turned to look at the Judge of the Dead once again. "Since your soul is not resting in Valinor as it should, you must find one to replace your own."

"What?" The elf maiden breathed, wondering if she had heard the young man correctly.

"You must offer up a soul in place of your own." He repeated his words, his face completely and utterly serious. This caused Ren's heart to stall in her chest for a moment, her breathing becoming shallow. "One that is equal to your own pureness."

The female only looked at him, the gears in her mind churning. "And who exactly do you suggest?"

Námo only looked at her for a long moment before he swallowed thickly and licked his lips, knowing that she would not exactly find his answer pleasing. "Your first born child."

A small disbelieving laugh came from her throat at hearing this, her eyes wide nonetheless. "I do not have children." She told him, her sapphire eyes slowly loosing the humor they had been expressing.

I don't have children. She reminded herself in her head. However, something slowly moving into place in her mind. But does that mean...? She looked up at the white haired teenager for a long moment before it hit her. She felt her eyes widen with a quiet horror but she also couldn't help but feel a spark of pure joy inside her. I'm meant to have children. She felt tears begin to moisten her eyes but she shook her head and cleared her throat, crushing the fantasy that one day she might hold a babe of her own in her arms. A babe that would easily be taken from her. Just don't have children, even if you can. She reasoned, knowing that she did not even want to go through the pain of losing one. Don't have children and one won't be taken from you.

"Fine." Ren murmured, though she was displeased with the idea in the first place. The prospect of a child was both exciting but terrifying in her mind. "My first born child."

"I hope it is all worth it." Manwë stepped forward and pushed her lightly on her chest, hard enough to force her to take a step back but not strong enough to knock her over. "Good luck, Galaren."

Expecting to meet solid ground when she stepped back, the she-elf wondered what he was doing but then her eyes widened in horror when the ground fell away behind her and she was once again falling into open air.

A scream meant to escape her throat again but she found that there was no air in her lungs once again so she could only fall back into the blackness, her mouth agape as she clawed at the darkness.

She felt like she fell for an eternity when she suddenly came splashing down into what she assumed was water and could only whine internally, pleading that she would not have to go through this torture again. Through the immobility and the empty feeling of her lungs.

Down and down she sunk until she thought that the blackness would crush her completely, just as she had felt before. Then, all at once she felt the clothes she bore be tugged off her body, leaving her in another strange pair of clothes, ones that she did not recognize.

Just as it had happened before, a bright light streamed down through the murky water at her and she felt something stir inside her chest. Hope.

With a renewed vigor, she desperately began to paddle upward, wanting so badly to reach the light and the familiar strain in her lungs told her she once again needed air.

She couldn't help the excitement that caused her stomach to tingle and with a surge of strength, she strong kicked and paddled towards the surface.

Then all at once, her fingertips broke the surface and she felt warmth settle in her body and she was aware of the clothes upon her skin. She felt the cool lick of a breeze upon her flesh and she could feel the gravel digging into her back.

And then, she felt herself take a breath.

He watched with dismay as the sky slowly began to grow lighter as the sun threatened to peak above the horizon. It would only be a matter of minutes before the Company left, the group having already been milling about, packing their things away for nearly a half hour now.

Kili and Fili had quietly left to go tend to the ponies, their eyes casting sadly back to the elf's still form where she now lay upon the ground, her blue cloak tucked under her head, creating the illusion that she was simply asleep. It was strange for them to not see her already up and about, tending to the horses like she had for the past few months.

A shuddering breath escaped his throat and he turned away from his troop to gaze down at the pale form of his fair lady.

With a heavy heart, he reached out and took hold of his own bag, dragging it towards him until it rested in his lap. Throwing the flap back, he slowly tugged out his long, silken cloak, the red fabric so soft in his hands. He could tell that it was expensive but he did not care. It would be proper for her; something so soft and beautiful and immensely valuable.

Placing the cloth down at his side, he reached out and carefully cupped her cheek for the final time, his thumb lightly brushing against her cheek bone.

And for a moment, he imagined that he felt warmth return to her flesh. He imagined that her cheeks had returned to their normal, rosy color. He imagined when he brushed his thumb against her lower lip, he felt her exhale softly.

"Goodbye, my love." He whispered as he continued to stare down at her lovely face, his heart thudding painfully in his chest. He felt his eyes once again begin to fill with tears and he had sot shut his eyes to fight off the moisture that threatened to roll down his cheeks. He tilted his face upward one final time, swallowing thickly as the emotions he had felt when he first lost her returned ten fold.

Eyes now glassy, he allowed his gaze to fall back on her. Lips quivering, he took a deep breath but found that he was no longer so strong. He couldn't help but allow himself to slump forward until his face was once again buried in her neck. His hand clutched desperately at the front of her clothes, pulling her as close to him as he could manage.

"Galaren..." He sobbed helplessly though his wails were greatly muffled by the flesh of her throat. "I'm-I'm sorry..."

Thorin found that he could not stop the painful pounding in his chest. He could not yet let her go. Even after he had sat beside her the entire night, his eyes never straying from her still form, he could not bury her. He wasn't strong enough to do it.

The dwarf only continued to sob despite the burning of eyes he felt upon him. And yet he did not look at them. For he did not want their sympathy.

Many minutes passed and he continued to let his sorrow be known. For it was loud and his cries broke in his chest, at times raising in octave as he clutched desperately to her.

That is until he felt a hand reach up and lightly touch the back of his head. If anything, his sobbing increased and the hand lightly began to stroke his hair, the fingers lightly combing through the dark waves.

After a few moments passed, he quieted slightly but did not try to stop the moisture leaking from his eyes.

A soft hand slowly came up to cup his cheek, the pad of its thumb brushing lightly against his beard. The touch was so gentle and tender that it caused the dwarf to grow quiet all together. The palm continued to cup his face and then there was a gentle upward tilting of his face.

The King slowly raised his head up, his cheeks still damp with moisture and what he saw next made his breath catch in his throat.

Icy blue irises looked up into the most beautiful sapphire eyes in all of Middle Earth.

The two of them only gazed back at the other and as his features flickered over her features, her thumb continued to stroke his cheek in a loving way. The dwarf felt a shuddering breath rip through him as he gazed up at her.

"Galaren." He exhaled, his eyes still never leaving her face. His hand slowly rose and he placed it over her own upon his cheek, his thick fingers curling around her palm. "I am dreaming."

"Thorin." She whispered back at him, her eyes half idled as she continued to lay on the ground. His heart fluttered in his chest when he heard his name leave her mouth. "This is no dream."

"Then what is this?" He asked her quietly, his fingers tightening around her hand as he once again lowered his head, his forehead lightly resting upon her chin. "Because my reality is no longer this wonderful."

This seemed to quiet the female for a moment, her bright eyes flickering over his handsome features, her hand still cupping his cheek while the other continued to stroke his hair.

"I cam back." She told him quietly, her hands distractingly warm. A question slowly began to glow behind his eyes. "I cam back for you."

"Why?" He asked her quietly, leaning into her touch.

"Because, you silly dwarf..." She continued to whisper up at him, her body still weak from the poison and disuse. "Zâyungi zu." She told him earnestly, one corner of her mouth pulling upward in a weakened smile. At hearing these words escape her lips, the dwarf allowed his mouth to fall slightly open and he found that air was not entering his lungs. His heard stammered in his chest but it would only continue to do so at her next words. "I love you so, so much."

And with that, she gently pulled his face down to her and their lips tenderly brushed against each other.

When the dwarf lord felt how very real and very alive she felt as she moved her mouth against his, he couldn't help but whimper pitifully in remorse, wishing so much that this was real.

He kissed her strongly, his hand that was once tangled in her clothes now raising up to cup the back of her neck, drawing her ever closer to him. His other hand left hers on his face while it moved to cradle her once again warm, rosy cheek in its palm.

The she-elf allowed her hand to slip from his face, instead lightly grasping the front of his tunic to pull him closer. His hair cascaded down on either side of her head, hiding them both behind a shadow of long, dark locks.

Both of them needing to find air, the dwarf slowly drew back back from her so that he could again gaze at her face. She was so beautiful and he couldn't help but let his eyes glimmer with tears once again.

"I love you, too." He whispered back to her, his heart clenching painfully knowing that this entire situation was complete fantasy. "More than you can possibly imagine." He murmured, his hand still petting her check. "But why must the Gods torment me with such a cruel dream?" The dwarf asked her and he watched as a bit of worry flickered through her eyes. "What have I done to deserve this pain?"

"This is no dream, my love." She told him, her sapphire irises intently staring into his own pair.

"How can I ever know?" Thorin asked her, his voice soft and so broken it caused the she-elf own heart to thud painfully. "How can I ever know that this is truly not fiction?"

He was answered with a searing kiss to his lips, one that caused his pale irises to widen slightly before he let his eyelids drop, deciding not to argue and instead embrace the contact bestowed upon him.

"You can trust in me." Galaren told him quietly. "You can trust in my love for you." She ran her thumb over his grizzly beard once again, turning his face back to look at her. "I came back from the other side because I could not bare to let you live out the rest of your life knowing if I loved you or not." Ren told him quietly, her warm breath fanning over his lips. "You did not deserve a torture as such."

"I am tortured by the mere thought of you..." He replied, a small, almost giddy smile pulling back the corners of his lips as he hovered over her. He simply stared down at her for a moment, the happiness draining from his eyes, only to be replaced by worry and fear. "...but more so by the thought of losing you."

"You don't have to lose me..." The blonde woman told him, her hand lightly combing through his thick hair. "You don't have to lose me ever again." She pulled him down to her once again, placing a soft kiss on his lips. "Because I am here with you now and I always will be with you."

Something akin to pure disbelief sparked behind his eyes, the happiness once again lingering in his irises. "You would love me for all eternity?" He breathed, his pale irises staring intently down at her. "Should I even become a fat, old grump who is unbearable to live with?"

The she-elf only beamed at his words, her eyes closing momentarily as a small chuckle that was almost a laugh came from her throat. It only took a moment before she sobered, her eyes still shinning back at him with pure tenderness in her irises.

"For all of eternity..." She told him as she released his shirt so that she could wrap both her arms around the back of his neck, their noses brushing as she smiled loving up at him, her lips just brushing against his. "And maybe even then some."

Hey, guys!

Sorry it's been awhile. Been kinda busy the last few days. What with moving into my dorm room and such. It's been a tad bit hectic and completely crazy. Haven't had much alone time up until the last day of orientation.

I started classes today. It was terrifying but I'm alright now I think.

Anyway, this chapter is forever long but it was completely necessary I feel like. A lot happened in this chapter first off. Ren met the Valar. Ren got pissed at the Valar. Thorin cried. Thorin yelled at Legolas. Thorin is showing early signs of gold sickness. Dwalin was worried. Ren was thrown off the mountain. Ren met dragons. Ren flew on a dragon. Ren threatened the Valar. Eru intervened. Manwë sent her back. Thorin thought he's hallucinating. Ren told him that she loves him. They kissed. Thorin asked her if she would love him for ever. Ren said yes.

Love. Love. Love.

So, yeah.

But anyway, I have to deal with issues and questions at hand:

I'm just going to overguestimate a bit for the sake of the height of elves. Let's just say that Thorin stands at 5' 5". Take into mind that Ren is short for an elf due to her stunted growth at birth. This, I would have to say places her around 5' 8"ish. Not a horribly big gap but enough that they have to tilt their faces to get to one another.

As for the issue at hand with time. I'm making the time laps between the two worlds huge. Like a few hours had passed in Middle Earth by the time she got back. I never stated in the last chapter that it was twice as long. I only said that time ran faster in Valinor, I didn't specify by how much.

I figured that with a sped up time difference in Valinor would help people adjust to their new lives by the times their loved ones also reached the Undying Lands so that they would be experienced and help when their families arrive.

So, yeah. There you go.

Also to yugiblade:

For some reason your review doesn't show up on my list of reviews which makes me sad, considering it was a very beautiful one. It absolutely made my day.

As of right now, my major is undeclared but I am seriously considering pursuing writing or some for of English. I did take a couple of dual credit writing courses in high school though and I loved the class. It was very easy for me since I had been doing fanfics for awhile now. Again, thank you for all the love and the encouragement.

It makes writing ten times better :)

Anyway, yeah. I gotta go guys. Got college stuff to do. I guess I'll talk to you guys later.

But thank you to all of those who reviewed! I've noticed that the chapters with only Ren don't get as many as the ones with Thorin in them so I will have to write more of them together or just more Thorin thoughts in general.

YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO, READ AND REVIEW!

Love,

Blue

P.S. Fanart anyone? Please?

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