1. Through the Mist
Happy Birthday, Jim!
The room was very strange... different from everything he had ever seen. He sensed an uncommon beauty, not saw it but felt it, because the place was shrouded in shadows. Was it dusk already? He could not remember; it certainly wasn’t dusk when he fell asleep.
Boromir kept walking, making his way through what seemed to be mazes of trees and cold stones, and sometimes he could not distinguish which was which, but one thing he knew: he walked along the corridors as though he had already been there. He strained his ears at the chirping of a few birds he could not put names to, but reminded him of the birds in Ithilien, and a sudden smile fleeted across his lips at the thought of home. There was also the distant rumor of a waterfall, or a river, but neither the noise of the bubbling water nor the echo of his steps in the stone corridors could shake from his mind the increasing sensation that he was being observed. He even felt the whispers; felt them, because he could not hear them.
“Where am I?” he risked to ask, but the voice came out weak as if drowned by mist or, perhaps, his own fear. Fear? Was it not delight he felt to be walking in a world of dreams?
“Where am I? Is there anyone here?” he asked.
He stopped. His hand strayed at once to his sword-hilt, and he cocked his head to take a better hearing, raising a brow at the silence. Silence? At first it seemed so, but then he heard a distinct noise... giggles?
“Who are you?” he asked again, his voice rising.
“Who are you?” It came very clear this time, but the voice was so lovely that he knew it could not be an echo of his own. Too many days of being alone on the road surely were taking their toll on him; but still, the voice rang in his ears... and he was trapped on the maze. He had to get the owner of the voice to speak.
“I asked you first,” he began, making his tone easy. “Won’t you show yourself to me?”
“Show myself? But I need not show myself. I see you now; is that not what matters?”
Boromir halted, but his eyes peered restlessly around him for a sign of the presence. Sweat drops trickle down his brow and back, but he dared not move lest he would betray his distress. He stopped breathing so that the uneven rumble of his chest would not disturb his hearing, but there was nothing to hear, only the murmur of the waterfall.
“You can see me, you say? I don’t believe you... darkness is too thick in this place for you to see me.”
“Ah, but I see!” And this was followed by the ringing of a clear, high-pitched laughter, followed by a fit of more giggles.
Boromir’s brows gathered and he turned around for it seemed to him that the laughter had come from behind, but in doing so, he tripped over a stone and fell. Loud laughter followed, but it was not hoarse, it was amazingly graceful and inviting; had he not been so vexed he might have laughed along. Just then, he caught the movement of a few branches to his left and dashed toward them, but when he arrived found only the wind and the stirring leaves.
“Fair warrior, we are not to be seized like that!”
“We? Is there more than one of you?” he asked, now looking about him in all directions, his breaths coming out unsteady and loud, his eyes wide and bright.
“More? Yes, more. Can’t you see us? We are not in hiding...”
“Hiding?” he cried to the gloom. “Hiding, indeed! Unless you show yourselves to me now, I shall walk away and leave you behind. I shall not give in to games and visions, for it seems to me that’s what you are. I shall not be tampered with!”
“Nay, friend, do not be hasty! Do not be dull...” the voice called once more, but this time there was a face with it. Boromir’s eyes widened, then quickly narrowed over the shape in front of him. A lady issued from a thicket of dark leaves and walked toward him with such grace that she seemed to be floating in a cloud. Her raven hair tumbled in curls above her waist and there was a bright light in her eyes. She resembled someone, he was certain; but, who?
“Mae govannen.” The sounds had barely reached his ears when another lady was standing next to him, and then another one. He looked from face to face, the rhythm of his heart quickening and his mind a whirlwind of emotions. Was he frightened, pleased, angry... was he going mad?
“Mae govannen, friend,” said the first lady, “for you are a friend, are you not? Your looks tell you apart, and you have been permitted to approach the dwellings unhindered.” She gave him an appraising look, but her eyes were lighted by a twinkle so merry that Boromir’s lips twitched against his will. “Welcome.”
“And who am I to thank for... hold... Mae govannen...” he rolled the sounds in his tongue again and again, his gaze narrowing until the eyes were only slits on his face. “Mae govannen! Then it must means I am in-”
“That will be revealed to you in time, fair traveler,” one of the ladies said and walked closer to him. She cocked her head and, for the first time, he noticed her delicately shaped ear. If their ageless beauty, or the whiteness of their skin had not been proof enough, now he was certain: at last, he had found the Elves.
“Will you not tell me where I am?” He stretched his back and retreated a pace or two. “I have traveled long, through deserted roads and many leagues. I seek for-”
“You shall find what you seek later, and not sooner than must be. Now, will you not sit? Surely you are tired from such a long march. But, come,” and she led him to a clearing in the woods that was surrounded by stone corridors on all four sides. There was also a fountain, and he wondered whether that small spring had caused the noise he’d heard earlier. His first impulse was to run to the water and plunge his head into it, neck and all, but he hesitated.
“Go on if that is your wish. The water is clear and fresh; it will revive your spirits.”
It took only her word to make him move, and he frowned for he was man enough not to wait for a lady’s permission. But, those thoughts were quickly forgotten as the clear, cool liquid came into contact with his face. For a moment, he gazed at his reflection, much more haggard and travel-beaten than he would have thought, or hoped for, especially with such company. Not only could he see his own self, but three pairs of eyes were also looking back at him from the water, their expressions eager and amused. One of the ladies had put her hands over his shoulders, the other two were simply looking at him- nay, not looking but staring! He smiled and turned to face them.
“I am honored to be in such company,” he began, trying to keep his warrior’s pose but was soon lost in their eyes, his own gaze traveling from face to face, each time encountering the same merry twinkle. The music of their pleasant laughter made him dizzy, but they would not stop; quite the opposite, for they seemed to become merrier the dizzier he felt. “This should be enough now, ladies. I must continue my journey, more so if I am close to its end. I would not wish to be late.”
“Close you may be, but you will not be late,” one of them said. “There is no time reckoning here, as you are soon to discover. Are you so eager to leave us?” and suddenly her face looked deeply disappointed, her lips pursed and a frown streaking her pale forehead. Somehow he was reminded of his little cousin when he teased her and made her angry, for it was the same countenance he was gazing into now, and that made him raise a brow. The lady looked as young as Lothíriel and yet she looked at him as though he was expected to obey because he was younger and because she knew better. His lips curled, but before his expression could turn into an unwanted sneer, he thought about taking advantage of the lady’s disposition, or lack of it.
“I would not wish to displease you, but I must go, unless...”
“Unless?” All three of them cried, leaning closer to him.
“Unless you tell me your names so I may speak to you in the proper way...”
“As for our names, we do not think you shall remember, for they are not in your tongue and you need not know them. But, we wanted to see you. We have seen generations of men come and go like the leaves, and it has been too long since a man from the South came seeking for the Elves-”
“And the last who came was so... dull! Dull and uncouth,” said another one. “But you... you are not to go now; we want to look at you.”
“Look at me?”
“Indeed,” said one of them coming closer and grabbing his forearm. Her fingers trailed a feathery, delightful path to his shoulder. He flinched somewhat but her hold tightened and, much though he wanted to move or say something, he found he was anchored to the floor. The scent of her hair was amazingly sweet, and the fabric of her gown against him was soft and warm. The other two surrounded him and began to whisper things in a language so beautiful that, for a moment, he thought they were singing. He felt his heart stir, for the sounds their tongues made as they spoke reminded him of his mother and Faramir when they practiced Sindarin... But, no; what he heard now seemed to be a thousand times prettier. What were they saying? They laughed and they looked at him, but what were they saying?
“Is it that you find me amusing?” he asked at last, rolling his eyes and surrendering himself to their examinations.
“Amusing? Yes! We had not seen one such as you in ages, and you are all we imagined... and more.”
“Ages? But you look so young-”
“You seem strong,” said the lady who held his arm, and was now running a hand through his hair, “and brave. Are all warriors from your land as strong and fair as you?”
“Well-” he began, but his own laughter choke all other words when he felt an arm creeping up his chest, tickling him. “We are brave, yes...”
“Brave and beautiful.”
“And beautiful... yes...”
“And stalwart,” the third lady whispered as her hand strayed to the hilt of his sword, then along his belt while looking at him straight to the eye. Oh, he sure liked those eyes...
“So sturdy and broad-” The lady by his arm was moving deliciously closer to him, her hand now traveling from his bicep toward the back of his neck in pressing yet slow touches, and he let out a faint cry... but suddenly the mist started to rise again from the ground, and all three of them froze in their movements. One of them said something hasty in their language, and the other two chuckled, but withdrew their hands from him.
“What is going on?” he asked, hoping that they’d continue what they were doing.
“We must be off now, kind lord.”
“Off?” he leaned forward. “What do you mean off? Off to where? Where are you going?”
“We go where we must, and so should you.”
“But, where would I go? You never told me where I was.”
“We said you would learn that in time,” the third lady said, even though her lips seemed not to move at all. The mist kept rising all over his world, blurring his vision and making him feel very cold. He rubbed his eyes, and saw them drift away with the fog as though they blended with it.
“Don’t go! Not yet... will I see you?”
“You will see whom you see...”
“Farewell, southern warrior!”
Shadows fell on him again, or became darker than they had been before, and the sounds of their voices grew fainter and fainter.
“Don’t go! Wait! Where-” he stretched forth his arm to reach them, but found himself groping blindly in the gloom. “Wait! Wait!”
A loud screech rang in all the crevices of the valley and Boromir, son of Denethor, started up at once, panting, eyes wide open, one hand to his sword and the other gripping his horn tightly. A light coat of sweat covered his brow, even though the rest of him seemed to be shivering from the cold.
He bit his lip and waited, but the sound did not repeat itself.
“Where have you gone, ladies?” He darted off, determined to find them, but was stopped by a pull at his leg that made him turn abruptly, seizing his knife.
“I said, who goes?” But, no one answered. Frantically, he peered around only to find that the embers of the fire had burnt low and the moon was hardly to be seen, yet a pale glow filled the valley and he realized dawn approached fast. But, there were no traces of the beautiful stone walls, nor the pillared corridors, or the trees, the fountain, or the Elves... the Elves? Where were they? He moved to take a step, but something stopped him and upon looking down he saw it: the laces of his boot had been caught on the tree roots by his bed... bed? What bed? He had been in the building, with the Elves... or, had he?
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.