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Glorfindel, Finrod, Legolas and the youngsters arrived back in Wiseman late Saturday afternoon just in time for dinner to find that the healers were back from Anchorage, having returned two days before.
“How did it go?” Glorfindel asked Elrohir as they sat down for dinner. Elladan did not return with them but remained in Anchorage, taking a flight to New York City to start looking for a place for him, Elrohir and Serindë to live.
“Well the results won’t be available for several weeks but I think they all passed with flying colors,” Elrohir answered. “Dan and I could tell that the people giving the tests were rather impressed.”
“How did they react to seeing all of you together?” Finrod asked with a knowing smile. “Mortals outside of Wiseman do not believe in Elves after all.”
“Well, as Gwyn or Gareth might say, they were verily gobsmacked,” Elrohir replied with a grin.
The healers who had gone to Anchorage all laughed.
“But once we got down to the business of testing, especially when we were doing the practicals, then they stopped being distracted by our beauty and in the end they were responding to us as they would to anyone,” he assured them. “At any rate, everyone did well and there were no incidents to speak of. So, how was your trip to Fairbanks and Denali? Did you see anything interesting?”
This last was directed at the Three Amigos and Nell.
“Well, we met some college students from Anchorage and rescued them from a bear, or at least Loren and Liam did,” Finda answered in a diffident tone, keeping his gaze on his plate, “and then we fought a monster, or at least the Maiar did.”
You could have heard a pin drop as everyone stared at the younger ellon in disbelief.
“Come again?” Elrohir said somewhat faintly.
Glorfindel gave Finrod a wry smile which his gwador returned. “What my son means,” Finrod explained, “is that while trekking through Denali, we came upon a group of young Mortals beside a… cirque, I believe is the term, a tarn actually.”
Several of those who had been living in Alaska for the last three years and were familiar with its geology nodded in understanding.
“Yes, well, anyway, just as we arrived several things happened almost simultaneously. There were earth tremors, more powerful than usual, powerful enough for us to comment on them. Then a grizzly bear showed up and Loren and Liam were able to convince it to go somewhere else. There was a stronger tremor just about then, and then the tarn exploded as something came out of it, something with many tentacles that grabbed Loren and me and dragged us into the tarn. We would have both died had Manveru, Erunáro and Olórin not appeared and rescued us.”
This last was greeted with stunned silence as everyone stared at him.
“Are you serious?” Daeron asked in a whisper, glancing between Finrod and Glorfindel as if perhaps hoping to catch one of them out, but Glorfindel nodded.
“Very and apparently it was… arranged.”
“Excuse me?” Elrohir exclaimed and others also voiced disbelief.
“Now, gwador, I disagree with you there,” Finrod said mildly. “I think it safer to say that the Valar took advantage of the situation. I suspect that their original intent was for us to rescue the children from the bear, but the Watcher in the Water was something they did not predict.”
“Yet the trees were concerned and I do not think it was about the bear,” Legolas chimed in.
“So you’re saying that something like the Watcher in the Water has been hanging out in a tarn in Denali all this time and no one’s noticed?” Cennanion asked.
“I think the earthquake opened a doorway to another dimension and the Watcher happened to be the first monster to get through,” Elennen answered before anyone else could speak. “Maybe it’s a hellmouth, like in Buffy.”
“Or the Void,” Calandil offered. “Hey! Maybe that’s how Morgoth gets back in.”
“Okay, I think you need to start at the beginning,” Elrohir demanded, glaring equally at Glorfindel and Finrod.
Finrod nodded. “Why don’t you tell them?” he suggested to Glorfindel, who sighed.
“We were camping at the Three Lakes area and had made our way into the next unit over, Riley Creek. At one point we stopped to rest and Liam took the youngsters off to teach them woodlore, but he came back sometime later saying the trees were concerned and they wanted us to go somewhere, so….”
It took a while for him to tell his tale and dinner was virtually forgotten as everyone listened in amazement to the events that unfolded, ending with their encounter with Lord Námo and what followed.
“So it appears we have five new recruits, though they must return to Anchorage and finish their studies first. I promised I would send them information about Elf Academy for next year,” Glorfindel ended.
No one spoke for the longest time as they attempted to grasp the implications of what they had just heard. Finally, Alphwen asked somewhat tentatively, “Do you suppose that’s what sleeps in Winterdark, another Watcher?”
Glorfindel shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine, Alfa. I’m disinclined to go and find out, though. I firmly believe in letting sleeping monsters lie.”
“Well, it certainly puts a whole different spin on the issue, doesn’t it?” Daeron said.
“These five students, what can you tell us about them?” Valandur asked. “What makes them so special that the Valar would go to the trouble of having you meet them in rather unique circumstances?”
“Well, Gary’s a double English and history major and plans to get an M.A. or possibly a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies. Chase is studying Biology with the intent of becoming a marine biologist. Joe’s doing Environmental Studies and hopes to someday join the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and Dani wants to be a lawyer while Micki is studying anthropology and wants to work in a museum. I told them to look up the SCA branch in Anchorage and join. They can begin their training through them.”
“A rather interesting mix of career choices,” Valandur commented, “but I fail to see what makes them so special compared to anyone else.”
“Perhaps it has nothing to do with what they are, but what they are destined to be,” Finrod suggested. “In spite of the strangeness of the situation, in spite of their terror, and they were terrified, they did not panic but attempted to rescue Loren and me, though their efforts were ultimately futile. That says much about their character.”
Valandur nodded. “Well, I look forward to meeting them someday,” he said and then Aldarion asked Legolas to describe exactly what the trees had told him and the evening was spent primarily in analyzing the entire incident with those involved offering their own perspectives. In the end, though, they came to no real conclusions and eventually Glorfindel declared that they were beating a dead horse and he, for one, was tired of it and could they find some other topic of conversation. So, Finrod asked Elrohir when he and Serindë were heading back East.
“We’re almost packed and plan to leave early tomorrow morning,” Elrohir answered. “We hope to be in New York City sometime next weekend. Dan emailed me last night and said he’s found a couple places in Brooklyn that look promising. We still have friends from when we lived there before. You remember Mark and Beverly Jaworski?”
Glorfindel nodded. “Yes. They were very friendly and always willing to lend a hand.”
“Dan’s staying with them for the moment. They have a place just east of Greenpoint. It’s a nice neighborhood, very Polish.”
“Nothing wrong with that,” Glorfindel said with a smile.
“Unless you’re Italian,” Elrohir quipped and Serindë and a few others chuckled.
“Luckily, you’re neither, so you should be fine,” Glorfindel shot back.
Elrohir nodded and then he and Serindë excused themselves to finish packing. Others began to scatter to pursue their own pleasures until Glorfindel found himself alone at the dining table with Finrod and Daeron, the three sitting in companionable silence as they sipped on some white merlot and nibbled on home-baked shortbread.
“I’ve decided to go ahead and have Ron regress me,” Glorfindel said without preamble.
Finrod and Daeron both looked up at that. “Because of what happened in Denali,” Finrod stated.
Glorfindel nodded but Daeron looked confused. “Why would what happened there have anything to do with your dreams that you can’t remember?”
Glorfindel sighed. “I left some details out of my story,” he admitted, not looking at either of them.
“I noticed the omission,” Finrod said mildly, “but did not see any reason to point it out.”
“What happened, then?” Daeron asked.
“I froze,” Glorfindel replied.
“I would have, too,” Daeron said, giving him a solicitous look. “It had to have been a shock and—”
“That’s not why I froze.”
Glorfindel took a moment to refill his wine glass before answering, never looking up. “It was my dream or at least the monster was in my dream. When it burst out of the tarn, I suddenly remembered. In my dream I was on a bridge somewhere and, just as in Denali, I was wrapped in tentacles and being drawn into the water to drown and I was just as helpless.”
“The same monster?” Daeron asked, giving him a disbelieving look.
“Or at least a close cousin,” Glorfindel retorted, finally looking up. “I need to know what is going on with me, why I’m having these dreams. I had another dream last night.” He looked directly at Finrod when he spoke, almost challenging him.
Finrod nodded. “So I suspected, but as you did not mention it, I did not ask. Do you remember what it was about?”
“Just that that thing was in it and I was drowning.” Glorfindel drank some more wine. “Of course, it could have just been symptomatic of what happened earlier. Not every dream is significant, or as Ron would say, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but I guess you could say that what happened was a wake-up call for me. I froze when I shouldn’t have and all because of some damn dream!”
“Shh, Loren, take it easy,” Daeron said solicitously, reaching out a hand to offer him some comfort. “You’re being too hard on yourself. Now Ron won’t be home until tomorrow night. You can call him then and make an appointment or wait until Monday.”
Glorfindel looked at him in surprise. “Where is he?”
“He and Holly took their sons camping at Wild Lake for a few days. Both boys were feeling antsy and Cani was acting out for some reason so I suggested they take them to the lake and let them run around it a few hundred times or something and get it out of their system. They’ll be back tomorrow night.”
Glorfindel snorted in humor. “I can just see it: one more time around, my sons. But Ada, we’ve already gone around it ninety-nine times. Then once more around makes it an even one hundred. Get moving. Your nana wants to eat dinner before midnight.”
Finrod and Daeron laughed and Glorfindel joined them. When they had calmed down, Glorfindel said. “Well, I guess I’ll have to wait to talk with him then.”
“If you decide to sleep again, tell us and we will guard your dreams,” Finrod said soberly.
“Thanks, but I think I’ll just stay up. I’m not in the mood to sleep anyway.” Glorfindel glanced at Daeron, giving him a rueful look. “Place is going to be awfully quiet with the Twins gone for a whole year.”
Daeron smiled. “I’m sure we’ll get used to it. I’m looking forward to the peace and quiet.”
“Oh, from your lips to the Valar’s ears, my friend,” Glorfindel said in all seriousness.
“Well, one can hope,” Daeron retorted mildly as he took a sip of wine.
They fell silent, each lost in his own thoughts for a time. Finally, Finrod stirred. “Well, you may not wish to sleep, but it was a long and tedious drive and I am feeling somewhat weary from it. If you will excuse me, I think I will go find my wife. I bid you both a pleasant evening.”
“Good night,” Glorfindel and Daeron chimed as Finrod left.
“So, fancy a game of chess?” Daeron suggested.
“Sure,” Glorfindel said and they rose from the table, taking their wine and the bottle with them as they headed for the library where they found the place deserted, for most of the Elves were in the woods enjoying the late spring evening.
Daeron insisted that Elrohir and Serindë have breakfast before they left so dawn saw them all enjoying eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles. Amroth and Nimrodel drove over as they were eating and joined them.
“I know you and your parents said your good-byes earlier before they left to go camping,” Amroth said to Serindë, “but here is a hug and kiss from them and your brothers.” And then he gave Elrohir his own hug and kiss.
The mood during breakfast was bittersweet, full of laughter and not a few tears, particularly from the ellith, as people reminisced with Glorfindel gleefully dredging up all the embarrassing peccadillos perpetrated by the Twins, Elrohir in particular, much to the amusement of the others. Elrond chimed in with his own stories and Celebrían regaled them with tales of when the Twins were still elflings.
Eventually, though, the meal ended, the last of the luggage was loaded into the car and the couple drove off. There were many sighs as they watched the car disappear around the corner onto Kodiak and the mood was sober. Elrond and Celebrían, especially, looked morose.
“We’ve just been reunited with them, and now we’ve lost them again,” Celebrían said with a sigh as Elrond wrapped his arms around her and gave her a hug.
“You haven’t lost them, Kelly,” Glorfindel said, deliberately using her mortal name. “They are merely temporarily misplaced. Before you know it, they’ll be back giving us all grief.”
Elrond chuckled. “He’s right, my dear. Now, it’s too lovely a day to stay indoors. Why don’t we take a walk?”
Celebrían nodded. “We’ll see you later then,” Elrond said to Glorfindel and the two headed away arm-in-arm while Glorfindel, Finrod and Daeron returned to the house.
The rest of Sunday passed quietly and slowly, at least for Glorfindel, who found himself stopping every now and then to check his watch, wishing the evening would hurry up so he could call Vorondur and set up an appointment. At the same time, he dreaded having to do so, for the idea of the regression frightened him. Yet, not knowing what his dreams were about frightened him even more. At one point during the day, Finrod, who had been in the library with Amarië where he was teaching her to read English, came into the kitchen to get them glasses of water to find Glorfindel by the sink shaking as if from ague, his forehead clammy with sweat and his eyes too wide.
About the same time, Lindorillë walked in from the garden, stopping in surprise at the sight of Glorfindel. Finrod never hesitated. “My dear, go find Eärnur. I believe he’s in the sunroom,” he ordered as he tried to convince Glorfindel to come away from the sink and sit at the breakfast nook. Lindorillë just nodded and ran up the back stairs. A few minutes later she returned with Eärnur to find Finrod attempting to get Glorfindel to drink some water. Amarië was also there, standing out of the way, having come to see what was taking her husband so long. Finrod looked up as the two came down the stairs.
“I found him like this by the sink, shaking like a leaf,” he explained to Eärnur as he stepped away to give the healer room. “He hasn’t spoken and I’m not sure he even hears me.”
Eärnur nodded as he crouched down before Glorfindel, checking his pulse. “Glorfindel, can you hear me? Loren!”
But Glorfindel either wouldn’t or couldn’t answer. Eärnur stood and placed his hands on Glorfindel’s head, closing his eyes and taking a deep, centering breath. The others felt power welling from him. Finrod automatically placed a hand on the healer’s shoulder to lend him strength, closing his eyes to better concentrate, and then there was a rush of wind and Finrod had the sensation of giant wings brushing against him, enveloping them all, and for a brief second of eternity he felt a sense of well-being and of being loved that surpassed anything he had felt before. He gasped as if someone had thrown cold water over him and he came back to himself to find Eärnur gently speaking to Glorfindel who was no longer shaking and appeared to be cognizant of his surroundings.
“Do you want to tell me what happened?” Eärnur asked solicitously.
“I’m not sure,” Glorfindel said somewhat hesitantly, casting an embarrassed look around the room at the others. “I came in here for something and now I don’t remember for what, and then….” He shrugged, his expression one of puzzlement mingled with a sense of defeat.
Finrod brushed a hand through Glorfindel’s hair. “It’s all right, gwador. We’ll get through this together, I promise.”
“I can’t go on like this, Finrod,” Glorfindel said pleadingly. “I’m turning into an emotional wreck. First the damn dreams, then Helena and then Denali and what else is going to go wrong?”
“Let me call Amroth and see if Vorondur is back yet,” Finrod suggested. “They may have returned earlier than expected.”
Glorfindel just nodded and Finrod went over and picked up the phone, punching in a number, then waited for someone to pick up on the other end. He made a face. “Answering machine,” he muttered to the others and even Glorfindel managed a thin smile at that. “Yes, Ron, this is Finrod. I’m calling for Glorfindel. Call us as soon as you get in. Thank you.” He hung up the phone. “I guess Amroth and Nimrodel are out enjoying the day.”
“As should we all,” Eärnur said. “Loren, why don’t you go out to the woods or perhaps just out to the garden? Take a book with you and some lemonade and just relax. Don’t worry about dreams or the future or anything. I’d be more than happy to keep you company if you don’t want to be alone.”
“You have your own plans,” Glorfindel protested.
“I was just upstairs reading a medical journal Roy gave me. I can easily read it outside as anywhere.”
“Come, Brother,” Finrod said solicitously. “Let’s go into the library and pick out something for you to read. Amarië and I would join you, but we still have to get through the lesson for today first.”
“And it’s our turn to cook,” Amarië chimed in, “so we will be busy with that in another hour or so.”
“It’s okay,” Glorfindel insisted. “I don’t need a whole bunch of mother hens clucking around me.” He sighed, running his hands through his golden locks. “Fine. I’ve got a book in my room that I’m reading. I’ll go get it.” He stood up.
“I’ll go with you,” Eärnur said. “I need to stop at the sunroom and get the journal.”
“Do you even understand what you’re reading?” Glorfindel asked as he and Eärnur headed up the stairs.
“Well, the terminology isn’t the same as what I’m used to and I have to consult a medical dictionary,” Eärnur explained, “but I’m slowly getting the hang of it. Dan and Roy gave us all their back issues to read. All us healers take turns reading a particular article and then we sit down as a group with Kyle or one of the other doctors at the hospital and discuss what we’ve read as a way of furthering our medical education.”
“That’s great,” Glorfindel said. They continued up the stairs. Lindorillë excused herself, saying that she had originally come inside to use the bathroom. Finrod grabbed some glasses and filled them with water and he and Amarië returned to the library. About ten minutes later, Glorfindel and Eärnur came back downstairs, grabbed some lemonade and went out to sit by the fire pit to read, but Eärnur could tell even as he was looking up another medical term of art unfamiliar to him that Glorfindel was just pretending to read and resisted a sigh, wishing Vorondur would hurry up and come home.
As it happened, it was nearly seven before Vorondur called, having received Finrod’s message.
“Sorry,” Vorondur said to Glorfindel. “We got a flat tire on the way back. How was Fairbanks and Denali? You okay?”
“No, I’m not,” Glorfindel said. “Something happened during our trip and I’ve decided to go ahead with the regression, but I need to see you and tell you about what happened first.”
“I have a ten o’clock appointment,” Vorondur said and Glorfindel could hear him flipping pages of his desk calendar. “But I’m free after that. Why don’t you come over for lunch and we’ll talk afterwards?”
“I’ll be there,” Glorfindel said, “along with Finrod and Daeron.”
“Not a problem. Anything you want to tell me now?” Vorondur asked.
“Not over the phone,” Glorfindel replied. “Oh, and Amroth should be in on the discussion.”
“I’ll let him know. We’ll see you around noon, okay?”
“Thanks, Ron. I appreciate it.” He hung up and turned to see Finrod and Daeron listening. “And now I just have to get through the rest of the night.”
“Why don’t the two of us go for a nice long run,” Finrod suggested. “I feel a need to stretch my legs.”
Glorfindel raised an eyebrow but then shrugged. “I’ll go change.”
Several minutes later, Daeron stood at the front door watching as Glorfindel and Finrod loped down the drive and then turned left when they passed the gates, disappearing from view. It was well after midnight and the sky was full of stars before they returned to Edhellond, both of them in a better frame of mind.
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