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On the Monday following Elf Camp, Glorfindel looked up George Stillman to ask him about using the facilities at the phys. ed. building.
“How’s Janey?” Glorfindel asked solicitously when he entered Stillman’s office.
“She’s doing better,” Stillman answered somewhat stiffly. “They released her about two weeks ago. She’s undergoing rehab. Doctor’s think she’ll be able to return to school with no problem. That Elf, the Twins’ father, he’s been around to help with her therapy.” He paused, looking embarrassed. “I didn’t want him or any of you near her, but my wife—” He gave Glorfindel a helpless shrug.
Glorfindel smiled benignly. “It has been my experience down the long ages that men tend to live longer if they allow their wives to rule over them where their children are concerned instead of the other way around.”
Stillman nodded. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Anyway, what did you want to see me about?”
Glorfindel explained. Stillman frowned. “This whole Dagor Dagorath thing is nonsense. How do we even know if what you say is true? I’ve never really gotten behind this whole Elf business, not the way Richard was.”
“Richard was very special,” Glorfindel said quietly.
Stillman gave him a shrewd look and sighed. “Yeah. That he was. There are days when I sit here and I say to myself, ‘Damn that bastard for dying when he did. He had no right to leave me with this unholy mess we’re all in’.”
Glorfindel gave him a concerned look. “What mess are we talking about? Except for Elf Academy, we Elves have very little contact with the rest of the college.”
The Man ran a hand through his thinning hair. “I’ve been getting a lot of flak from the trustees about the athletic field being… um… borrowed.” He gave Glorfindel a knowing look.
“And I can appreciate that, but no one at Edhellond had anything to do with that. That was strictly something that the Maiar decided on. Frankly, it would’ve been better if they had simply set up behind our estate. There would’ve been plenty of room and no one would’ve been importuned by them.”
“Yes, well, all that aside, the damage, as they say, has been done,” Stillman said impatiently. “As if I had any say in the matter. I had to actually hear about it from campus security.”
“And again, I apologize, but George, what’s done is done and I noticed that the athletic field was not only put back the way it was before the kings showed up but even improved upon at no cost to the college so frankly no one has any cause for complaint, including the trustees.”
The Man gave him a mirthless grin. “Easy enough for you to say, but I’m the one getting the business.”
“Well, you might point out to these people that in the end, none of this matters.” He waved his hand about to encompass the office and presumably the college as a whole.
“How can you say that?” Stillman demanded.
“George, I have seen whole civilizations crumble into dust. They come and they go. Usually one civilization builds on the bones of a previous one. Whether the Dagor Dagorath occurs next week or a millennium from now, the end result will be the same. Wiseman will eventually cease to exist. That’s just the way of things. The trustees are being petty for the sake of being petty because they feel that they have no control over matters, and, on one level they don’t, none of us do. On the other hand, they do have some control over you and the other administrators and they are exercising it. Your job is to point out to them that acts of God are outside your purview and if the Almighty manifests His wishes in the form of the Valar and Maiar, there is precious little you can do about it.”
Stillman sat for a moment staring out the window contemplating Glorfindel’s words. Glorfindel stayed quiet, preternaturally patient. Finally Stillman looked at him and his smile was sly and rueful at the same time. “Would you like to tell them that?”
Glorfindel barked a laugh. “Sure, George. I’d be happy to, but I doubt they would enjoy the experience. I’m more likely to chuck them out the window as not.”
Stillman chuckled. “You and me both. Okay, back to business. When did you want to use the gyms? Now that we’re in summer session, we leave the building open during the day for the students’ use, but since there are no games scheduled, we close up around six and nothing is opened on the weekend.”
“Well, we’re still working out the details. I need to get everyone’s schedule and see what works for the most of us. We’re not in any particular hurry. Let me get back to you later this week and I’ll let you know, but I suspect that possibly we would want at least a couple of nights available. I know, I know, that means someone in campus security has to be on hand to let us in and you’ll want someone from janitorial as well and that means overtime. Tell you what, we will make sure everything is washed down and put to rights after we’re done and as for campus security, they just need to come and unlock the building for us and stop in again later to relock it. There’s always someone on duty anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Okay. Get back to me when you can and I’ll see what I can do.”
Glorfindel stood up and the two shook hands. Just as he got to the door, Stillman said, “I still wouldn’t mind having you explain the facts of life to the trustees, you know. Coming from you, they might actually listen.”
Glorfindel stopped and gave him a brilliant smile. “I might let Finrod play with them. I may be a balrog-slayer, but he’s a king and he’s way scarier than I can ever be.”
“I really find that hard to believe,” Stillman said with a jaundiced look. “But frankly, you all scare the hell out of me. Until you arrived my world, as crazy as it is, was at least… safe. Now….”
Glorfindel came back around the desk to face Stillman, putting his hands on the Man’s shoulders in a friendly manner, his demeanor grave. “George, let me tell you a little secret. The world has never been safe. The difference between now and before is that now the blinders are off and you are seeing the truth behind the veil that most people erect to hide themselves behind from what is really going on. What should frighten you more than knowing the truth is how complacent you were about reality before the veil was ripped from your eyes. Most people will die never knowing the truth and will only learn of it afterwards. You should be grateful that you have been given the chance to learn it before you die. Trust me when I say that few Mortals are ever granted that particular blessing.”
“Blessing?” Stillman echoed in disbelief.
Glorfindel stepped back with a nod and the quirk of an eyebrow. “It may not seem so to you at the moment, but if you think about it for a bit, I believe you will see what a blessing it is to be able to face reality as it is and not as we wish it to be. Self-delusions are our greatest sins and I know of what I speak because when I died and was Judged I had every self-delusion stripped from me until I stood naked before God, as it were. It is not a pleasant experience. Pray that when your time comes, there will be one less self-delusion for you to have to deal with.”
With that, he gave the Mortal a slight bow and walked out, leaving Stillman gaping after him.
On Wednesday, Daeron went to see Vorondur for their usual session. Vorondur greeted him warmly as they sat down.
“I hear Elf Camp One was a success,” Vorondur said. “Congratulations.”
Daeron grinned. “It was amusing to see how ragged my helpers all were by the end of it, even Loren, but everyone enjoyed themselves. I think the Valinóreans had the most fun interacting with the children. I could see in their eyes how much they regretted that there are no little ones in Aman.”
“Yes, that is something. It’s a pity that there is no way to show those of Valinor something of what we do here among the Mortals and the joy the children give us. Joy and purpose.”
Daeron nodded but did not comment. Vorondur gave him a shrewd look. “So, how does it feel to be counted among the warriors? I’m only sorry that Dan and Roy weren’t here for it. They would have been so proud. Have you spoken with them lately?”
“They called over the weekend to let us know that they found a place in Greenpoint,” Daeron replied and Vorondur nodded.
“Yes, they called here as well to give us their new address. So what did they say when they found out?”
Daeron gave Vorondur a scowl. “I wasn’t going to say anything about it but Loren did.”
“Why did you wish to remain silent?” Vorondur asked in a neutral tone, giving nothing away as to how he might feel about it.
Daeron gave him a jaundiced look. “C’mon, Ron! Look at me.” He spread his hands wide. “Do I look like a warrior to you?”
“And what is a warrior supposed to look like?” Vorondur countered. “After all, even my sons had no clue that I belong to the Warrior Society and have since the First Age. Do I look like a warrior?”
“More so than I,” Daeron shot back. “Look, it was very nice for everyone to want to honor me in some fashion for saving Olwë’s life, but really, a hearty handshake and a gold watch would have been better and more useful. And now they’re all going on about training.” He huffed in disgust. “Gilvagor even asked me the other day what my weapon of choice was.”
“And what did you tell him?”
“I told him that the only weapon I planned on using was my voice. He just stared at me as if I’d suddenly begun speaking to him in Urdu or something and walked away looking rather bemused.”
Vorondur smiled slightly. “Gavin is a warrior; he knows weapons, but he has little knowledge of Songs of Power and their uses.”
“I don’t know much about them myself,” Daeron admitted. “I’ve asked Glorfindel about them, sure, but he’s always been reluctant to talk about them. I’ve been meaning to ask Finrod, but between him working at the bookstore and me at Elf Academy, there hasn’t been much time.”
“Do you think you would want to learn Songs of Power or are you just interested in them theoretically, as a subject of study without actually utilizing them?”
The minstrel shrugged. “I’m not sure, really. The whole concept fascinates me. We Sindar never really developed Songs of Power; that seems to be something that the Valar taught the Noldor.”
Vorondur nodded. “So I was told when I was being tutored in them as an elfling. Even so, it seems that only those who once resided in Valinor were ever able to wield Songs of Power effectively. I learned the rudiments but I would never rely on them solely.”
The two fell into silence for a bit and then Vorondur said, “I know you are as capable as the rest of us of wielding weapons. You’ve sparred with Loren—”
“Once,” Daeron interrupted, “and I vowed never to do so again. You may have noticed that anytime Loren wants a sparring match, I stay firmly out of it. I’ll hold his weapons for him, but that’s the closest I ever want to get to wielding them.”
“And yet you have down the ages, have you not? And you are a black belt in more than one form of martial arts, as I recall.”
“Oh, sure, but I’ve only wielded them in defense and I never participated in any of the Mortal wars, not the way Loren and the Twins did, though during the First and Second World Wars, they didn’t either. We all helped with the Red Cross and being medics. Loren had decided that we would not involve ourselves further with what was happening among the Mortals. Even so, I can recall at least twice where we were in dangerous situations and could well have died.” He shrugged.
“Well, getting back to my original question, how do you feel about being counted among the warriors?”
“You’re not going to let this go, are you?” Daeron countered with a scowl.
Vorondur gave him a warm smile. “Just doing my job. Darren, I know you don’t see yourself as a warrior, certainly not in the same class as Loren or Finrod or even Gavin, but you didn’t survive all these ages being St. Francis of Assisi or even Mahatma Gandhi. What disturbs you about being initiated into the Warrior Society beyond the fact that you don’t see yourself as a warrior of any stripe?”
For a moment, Daeron did not speak, his gaze on his lap. After a moment, without looking up, he whispered, “I’m afraid I will have to pick up a weapon and I dread what will happen to me when I do. I am afraid I will lose myself in the exultation of bloodlust and hate. I don’t want… I can’t allow myself to feel that again… not again.” He stifled a sob and forced the tears from flowing, looking shamed.
Vorondur sat for a moment allowing the ellon to get himself under control before speaking. “Why don’t we talk about your fear of losing yourself in the bloodlust and see what we can do about it? I will tell you that this is something every warrior faces, so there’s no shame in how you feel about it, okay?”
Daeron nodded and the rest of the hour was spent with him telling Vorondur about the first time he had allowed the bloodlust to rule him and why. By the end of the session he felt emotionally drained and Vorondur refused to let him drive home immediately but insisted that he lie down for a bit and rest.
“I don’t want you behind the wheel in your state,” he said when Daeron started to protest. “Rest for an hour and then I’ll let you go.” He led the minstrel upstairs to the room that his sons shared and once he was comfortable in the bed, Vorondur led him through a deep breathing exercise and within minutes Daeron was fast asleep. Vorondur stayed for a moment or two longer to make sure the ellon remained sleeping before returning to his office to write up his notes.
From the sealed files of Dr. Ron Brightman:
Name: Darren Harper (Daeron of Doriath)
Personality Profile: ISFP: Composer
Charm: Above average by elvish standards
Planning ability: Needs development
Survival preparations: ‘Well, duh!’
Weapons skill: Ninja (but you would never know by the looks of him)
Warm fuzzies: Toasty but somewhat secretive
Leadership skills: Would rather not
Analysis: Darren, as he prefers to be called these days, is, first and foremost, a person who is largely defined by his inherent need to create. His talents and passions with lore, language and music especially, reveal someone who loves creating for the sake of creating, and is more than likely to get lost in his newest composition, disappearing for a time into the space between the notes. Others have learned to leave him alone when he’s like that, for he can be emotionally intense. That said, Darren has proven to be the consummate aide-de-camp for Loren, and Loren relies on him heavily, especially in helping him rein in the Twins when they get ‘overly excited’ as he likes to put it. Darren has survived much and has suffered more than most, but he has learned to forgive both himself and others and treats everyone with a gentleness that recognizes the imperfections in others and cherishes them for those imperfections, affirming the worth of others by his treatment of them. I think Loren would be lost without him, as would we all….
His recent initiation into the Warrior Society, however, has forced him to confront a facet of his personality that he would rather not deal with: falling into the bloodlust of battle. It is one reason why he studied the martial arts and has black belts in at least two styles that I know of, possibly three. When I asked him what was the difference between using martial arts and wielding a sword to defend oneself, his answer was very revealing: ‘There’s usually no blood’. Unfortunately, when the Dagor Dagorath arrives, I very much doubt that we’ll all be fighting ninja-style. Much of Darren’s reluctance stems from what he did at the time Loren and the Twins rescued him from the Mortals who held him in bondage. He has never truly forgiven himself for allowing his rage to get the better of him, although no one else blames him for it. If anything, his actions are quite understandable and I would have been more concerned if he hadn’t acted as he did. I only hope I can help him put all that in perspective; eventually Darren will need to pick up a sword again. When the War commences, there will be no room in the foxhole, so to speak, for conscientious objectors.
Perhaps he can be taught Songs of Power if he feels he does not wish to trust himself with a weapon. Finrod would need to be approached about it. How successful he would be at it is anyone’s guess, but we’ll never know until it’s tried….
Glorfindel’s session with Vorondur was on Friday and he came armed.
“Roy sent me these photos that I asked him to take while he and Sarah were in the Adirondacks,” he said, clutching a folder as he took a seat in one of the overstuff chairs rather than at the desk as he had done in his first session. Vorondur raised an eyebrow but did not comment.
“I’d say!” Glorfindel exclaimed as he placed the folder on the coffee table that sat between them and opened it, spreading the photographs out. “Look! Here’s the Grant Building where the Twins and Sarah were supposedly living. And here, look! Owls Fly Way. I couldn’t make up a street name like that if I tried. And oh, here’s the clincher.” He picked up one of the photos and held it up. Vorondur saw a yellow building with a large sign that read ‘High Falls Gorge’.
Vorondur leaned over slightly to take the photograph from him and Glorfindel rummaged through the other pictures until he found what he was looking for and held it up for Vorondur’s perusal. “And look what they found when they visited the Gorge.” Vorondur took the proffered photo and stared at the evergreen tree growing out of the cliff face, its trunk twisted just as Glorfindel had described from his dream. He glanced up at the ellon sitting opposite him and leaned back in his chair.
“What conclusions have you drawn from seeing these photos?”
“Well, obviously I dreamt true,” Glorfindel said with a huff of annoyance as if he felt the answer to Vorondur’s question was self-evident.
“Yes, but was the dream prophetic? Will the events that happened in your dream play out in reality? Will Edhellond be destroyed? Will we all be on the run? Will Conan and Barry die in a car accident and will Alex, Felicity and Derek drown? Will you end up as lunch for a Watcher in the Water?”
“Eru! I hope not,” Glorfindel exclaimed, growing pale at the thought. “Almost becoming some monster’s lunch once is enough.”
“I was told by Lord Irmo that your dreams were being hijacked,” Vorondur continued. “He refused to tell me what the dreams were about or even why he sent them. Apparently he felt this was something I had to learn on my own. So my question to you, Loren, is: what parts of the dream do you think were the Enemy’s and what parts were sent by Lord Irmo?”
Glorfindel sat back, running his hands through his hair. “I’d like to say all the bad parts, but how can I be sure?”
“A reasonable assumption. Let’s take a look at the dream more closely, step-by-step. We’ll begin with the Father’s Day celebration. According to you, it was also the summer solstice which is a very significant date for you.”
Glorfindel nodded. “Sure, but you know, after all this time, it doesn’t have the same effect on me as it used to. Back when I first returned to Middle-earth, I often went off by myself during that time instead of hanging about Lindon or, later, Imladris for their celebrations. As the ages wore away and we were struggling just to survive the ice and what followed afterwards, it just wasn’t all that important. Somewhere along the line, it just became another day.” He shrugged then.
“So I noticed the first time the date came around after Holly, Sarah and I joined you here, and I’m glad for that. Okay, so ignoring the date and its significance, do you feel that the destruction of Edhellond was the beginning of the Enemy hijacking the dream?”
“Actually, no,” Glorfindel answered. “I’ve been thinking about it and I realize that that was the starting point. It was how Lord Irmo got me to leave Wiseman for Saranac Lake, you see?”
“Yes, I do. So, let’s jump forward to when you arrived at Saranac Lake. Can you see at what point in the dream the storyline got hijacked?”
Glorfindel half-closed his eyes, dredging up the memory of the dream and all that happened in it. “I think it was when I got the text message telling me that Barry and Conan had been killed and then Alex, Felicity and Derek drowned.”
“Do you know why the dream took a darker turn at that point, rather than at some other point?”
“What do you mean?”
“Lord Irmo said the dream was hijacked, but he never said at what stage. Technically speaking, the Enemy only had to change the ultimate outcome of the dream, where at the very moment of triumph in recovering the talisman, it is stolen from you. That would have been devastating enough for anyone, would you agree?”
Glorfindel nodded. “So, the attack coming earlier than that was aimed at what?”
“Aimed at you. Loren, do you know how the you in the dream felt when you received news of Conan and Barry’s deaths and when Alex, Felicity and Derek drowned? Can you recall what you were feeling at that point?”
“Sad. Angry. Hopelessness, like nothing really mattered anymore.”
“In other words, despair.”
Glorfindel nodded, looking thoughtful. “I found myself walking into St. Margaret’s. Wait…” He rifled through the photographs again. “Ah, here. Look.” He handed Vorondur a photograph of a small white church with a sign outside declaring that it was St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church with Mass at 7:30 A.M. “And you want to know the weird part? I never asked Roy to take a picture of it, assuming it actually existed. Not sure what prompted him to do so, since he didn’t know the content of my dream.”
Vorondur gave him a brief, knowing look. “Perhaps a little birdie told him to,” he offered and Glorfindel awarded him with a lift of an eyebrow at the implications. “So, yes, St. Margaret’s where you met Charles Waverly,” he added, handing the photograph back to Glorfindel who stared at it pensively.
“Do you think that part might be prophetic?” Glorfindel whispered.
“Why would you think so?”
Glorfindel looked up. “Because in the dream, I knew Charles was dead, had been for a good year, but there he was, sitting in the church reading his breviary, looking pretty much alive.”
“Well, on one level, it probably was prophetic,” Vorondur offered.
“How do you mean?”
“Simply because eventually, Charles, like all Mortals, will die,” Vorondur replied with a shrug. “Will he die inside the next three years? Only Eru knows. Will he die regardless? That’s an absolute given and he is not young. His days are numbered, more so than say Josiah’s, who is a couple decades younger. But perhaps we can look at it another way.”
“What way, Ron? He was dead in the dream!”
“But why was he dead? And why was he even there? What role did he play in the dream?”
Glorfindel did not answer immediately, staring off into space as he replayed that part of the dream in his mind. “He kept saying that Alex, Felicity and Derek were alive but only if I believed they were. He had me read something from the breviary.” He closed his eyes to better concentrate. “’In you, Lord, is our hope. We will never hope in vain. We will dance and rejoice in your mercy. We will never hope in vain.’” He opened his eyes and looked directly at Vorondur as he spoke. “He told me I was losing estel, that I needed to regain it.”
Vorondur nodded. “I may be wrong, but I think the whole St. Margaret episode was Lord Irmo’s attempt to regain control of the dream.”
“But why Charles and why did I dream him as being dead?”
“Perhaps because had he simply walked in out of the blue and told you to regain your hope, it would have shattered the dreamscape. While you were in the dream, it was absolutely real to you, was it not?” When Glorfindel nodded, Vorondur continued. “Then, the only way having Charles be in Saranac Lake and you accepting his presence was if you believed he was dead and you were speaking to his ghost. I suspect that it was as direct as Lord Irmo could get in speaking to you through your dream, hoping to derail the Enemy’s attack upon you. He partly succeeded because you still went ahead with your plans to retrieve the talisman, but in the end the Enemy still took control, which is why you die in the end of it.”
Glorfindel closed his eyes again with a sigh as he leaned back into the chair. “I don’t think I could deal with it, Charles dying, or any of them dying. I actually dread the future, something I’ve never done before, but before we came to Wiseman, I always knew that eventually I would move on to some other place where I did not know the people, that I would not necessarily have to stay and watch people I had come to know and care about grow old or contract a life-threatening disease and die. But now….”
“Now, we know that we will have to watch our friends die, generation by generation, until the time of the Dagor Dagorath and that thought would depress any of us,” Vorondur concluded and Glorfindel nodded, not opening his eyes. “Well, a discussion for another time. Let’s get back to your dream. Assuming that it is not prophetic, that the destruction of Edhellond was a… story plot to get you on your way to Saranac Lake, what do you think the actual point of the dream is?”
Glorfindel opened his eyes, his expression more set and decisive. “Oh, that’s simple enough. The talisman. Everything revolves around it. I don’t know if Gwyn and Gareth actually have it or know of it, but I intend to find out. I have the feeling that it may well be a weapon we will need in the end.”
“Because of the Silmaril embedded in it,” Vorondur offered, making it more a statement than a question.
Glorfindel nodded. “Assuming it is a Silmaril. I only got a quick glance at it in the dream and I don’t trust that. It could well have been symbolic rather than an actuality. But you know, now that I think about it, when I was in Fairbanks, we stopped at Gwyn and Gareth’s house to visit and I told them that a recent dream involved the two of them though I could remember no details about it. I asked them if they had any idea why I would dream about them and they both said no, but looking back, I realize that Gareth, at least, seemed more frightened than surprised. I’m wondering if even then, he knew what I was asking.”
“Well, they will be up next week for the Fourth, so you can ask them about it and you have proof now that you dreamt true,” Vorondur said, pointing to the photographs. “But, when you do confront them, I think it would be wise if I, Finrod and Elrond were present.”
Glorfindel gave him a mirthless grin. “Why? So you can protect them?”
Vorondur shook his head and in all seriousness said, “No, Loren, to protect you.”
Glorfindel’s response to that was a disbelieving snort, but he did not contradict the ellon.
From the sealed files of Dr. Ron Brightman:
Name: Loren DelaFiorë (Glorfindel of the House of the Golden Flower)
A wizard indeed!…
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