Mellon Chronicles

Dark Visions

Chapter 1

by Cassia-(T) and Siobhan-(T)

"Dark Visions", art by Cassia

"Dark Visions" art by Cassia-(T)

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Two figures moved beneath the mottled shadows of the large mallorn trees, quietly talking together.  One of the sojourners supported the weight of the other who limped slowly forward, his useless right arm clutched tightly to his chest in a rough sling. 

In the woods about them swift, light beings ran alongside the pair of intruders, carefully watching them from their hiding places amongst the tall trees.  Their sharp hearing picked up the quiet conversation as the elder man turned to the youth he was supporting; one arm wrapped protectively about the young man’s waist, his free hand tightly gripping the gnarled wood of his walking staff. 

“No, my dear boy, it was not at all funny at the time, but now looking back surely you can see the humor of it.”  Gandalf could not hide the smile that tugged at his lips as he tried to lighten his companion’s mood.  “The look on your face when I reached you...” 

“The look on my face was pain and irritation.  I still fail to see the humor there, Mithrandir.”  The young dark-haired man tried to blow the wayward strands of hair out of his eyes.  He was sweating and breathing hard and the wavy curls stuck fast to his skin.  He tried to concentrate on walking and not on the shape he was in; the Maia’s attempts to humor him were lost in the ache that throbbed dully through his body every time he took a step. 

“Now perhaps if the roles were reversed and it was you who tumbled down that incline and ended up pinned beneath the bulk of a dead, six-foot goblin then perhaps I would be laughing now as well.”  He stumbled slightly and their pace slowed a fraction as the wizard compensated for the human’s awkward, limping gate. 

One of the hidden warriors that tracked their progress made to move forward but was held back by his superior.  The tall grey-headed being was known to them, but the other was not. 

“Now that cut on your thigh is no laughing matter.” Gandalf’s tone turned serious and he glanced at the makeshift bandage that wrapped around the young human’s leg; the red stain was spreading again. 

With a deep sigh, Aragorn leaned more heavily on his companion and glanced at the elder being. “Are you quite sure you couldn’t have handled this yourself?  I really don’t want to have to go to Lothlórien. It’s not that bad.” 

“Not that bad.”  Gandalf rolled his eyes.  “My dear boy, one does not get in a fight with a mounted wraith and his ground patrol and come out in the shape that you are in now and say he has a scratch.” 

“I didn’t say I had a scratch.” 

“Yet,” the wizard murmured. “Besides we are already in Lothlórien and have been for sometime now.” 

“Can't we just go to Rivendell? My father can take care of this.” Aragorn drew his breath in with a sharp hiss as he stepped forward, placing too much pressure on his left leg.  A long cut traced the human’s thigh where the goblin’s blade had cut him.  He hadn’t even incurred the injury in the fight, which only added it his irritation.

“We are closer to Lothlórien and they can help you here.  Rivendell is too far in the shape you are in,” Gandalf spoke softly, worry touching the edges of his age-old eyes. 

“What do you think they were doing there?” Aragorn tried to change the subject, attempting to keep his mind off the ache that had crept back into his body.  He hadn’t wanted to tell Gandalf, but he had known for a few days before their unfortunate encounter that he had been getting sick.  He could feel the pain deep in his throat when he swallowed and the tiredness that stole over him was from more than their all night trek back to the elven territory.  It should have been much cooler in the shade of the leafy trees than it was and he knew the heat was not from the injuries he had sustained last night. 

“I think they were looking for something,”  Gandalf replied cryptically.  He had his suspicions what the wraith had been doing near the Anduin river and he felt partly responsible for the injuries that the young man in his company had incurred.  He simply had not realized that the one who searched had begun to concentrate his efforts in that region of the river once more.  He had been wrong.  He didn’t care what Saruman said about how anything that fell into the river must surely have washed to the sea by now; the wraith was there for a reason and it was making Gandalf re-think many things. 

The companions had been taken unawares early in the evening the day prior as they had set up their camp near the shores of the river Anduin on their way south.  Gandalf’s presence had been requested by the steward of Rohan to aid in talks with the Easterlings.  The wizard did not believe the truce would hold, but he had been willing to accompany Rohan’s leader and assist him in any way possible.  This setback bode ill for the tentative peace that had settled in the southern lands.

The Maia had sensed their attacker first, but even he was not prepared for the sight of the wraith lord mounted on a huge flying beast that swept in low over their campsite. The wings of the large creature brushed the tops of the trees that bracketed the edges of the waterway, beating the air in a slow, rhythmic thrum as it swept up the middle of the river.  The beast’s howls echoed across the waterway, competing with the hair-raising wails of its rider.  Seconds later the orcs had converged on them without warning. With Gandalf concentrating on their winged master, Aragorn was left to take care of the ground patrol that accompanied the wraith. 

The orcs seemed as shocked to find the human and the wizard as the two companions had been to see them, so Aragorn had the element of surprise on his side.  The fight had been short, swift and brutal.  The last of the orcs had put up the greatest amount of resistance.  The wraith lord, seeing his servants decimated and unable to withstand the power of the Maia alone and without the bidding of his master, had hastily retreated, blending into the darkening sky before Gandalf could stop him. 

When Gandalf had turned his attention back to Aragorn, there was one orc left, and that one had nearly gotten the upper hand by the time the wizard was able to lend a hand.  The two warriors struggled together on the edge of a small knoll that dipped back into the woodlands.  The foul creature pressed Aragorn’s blade against him, his overpowering strength giving him the advantage.  The ranger widened his stance and shoved his opponent back with all his might, giving him a split second reprieve.  Ducking under the orcs sweeping blade, Aragorn narrowly missed being decapitated at the same instant that Gandalf sent a pulse of power straight at the creature, snapping its neck as it arced against the unseen hand that shoved it forward...into Aragorn, toppling them both down the grassy knoll. 

When Gandalf reached the young human he lay pinned underneath the body of the dead orc, his right shoulder dislocated and his collarbone broken beneath the weight of the black creature.  The orc’s blade had torn a jagged cut in the ranger’s leg as they tumbled down into the sloping valley. 

Unwilling to wait out the youth’s injuries and worried about poisons in his system, Gandalf had bandaged Aragorn’s wounds as best he could and headed them out that night towards the elves' woodland fortress deep in Lothlórien.  He needed to leave the ranger somewhere safe until he was healed and proceed to Rohan as quickly as possible, without his young traveling companion – a thought with which he was not at all comfortable for some reason. 

That was how they had ended up limping through the woods towards Caras Galadon so early in the morning.

“If we are in Lothlórien, where are the elves?” Aragorn glanced around them.  He had grown more uneasy the deeper they had walked into the woods.

With a small laugh Gandalf, swept his staff in a lazy circle. “Why, all around us, and they have been for some time.”  He glanced at the human who limped stiffly beside him, holding on to the Maia for support. “Remember, Aragorn, you are not in Mirkwood or Rivendell,” he whispered quietly. 

The ranger sighed deeply. “What I wouldn’t give to be standing in front of Thranduil, listening to one of his lectures on the carelessness of youth right now. Or better yet home,” dark silver eyes returned the searching glance, “listening to my father lecture me.”

A burst of laughter broke from the wizard’s lips. “My dear boy, if we were at your home your father would more than likely be lecturing me and not you.” 

For the first time since their encounter with the wraith, Aragorn smiled. “And that is truly why you don’t want to take me home right now, am I not correct?” 

“In part, yes.  But I really must make with all haste to Rohan.  And as much as I hate to leave you behind, this is the safest place for you now.”  The Maia stopped their forward motion, his hand clutching his staff crossed protectively in front of Aragorn as much to hold the wounded human up as to stop him from proceeding.

 Wearily the ranger glanced up into the piercing blue gaze of a dozen armed elves.

“Good morning and well met,” Gandalf addressed the warrior that stepped out from among those arranged in front of the travelers.

“You are known to us, Mithrandir.” The elf’s blue eyes appraised the man that stood beside the Maia, “but the human is not.”  The warrior spoke in the grey tongue out of habit.  It wasn’t that the Lothlórien elves were rude, but they were not accustomed to allowing strangers into their sanctuary.

“I am Aragorn of the Dunédain, a friend to Gandalf the Grey,” the man introduced himself, speaking elvish perfectly.  He touched the fingers of his left hand to his forehead and bowed slightly, as much as his wounds would allow.

The warrior hid his surprise well, his stoic gaze drifting wordlessly to the wizard for further explanation.

“I need you to care for this one for me.  The Lady Galadriel will know him, even though you do not, and I am sure she will welcome him here.  I have business that cannot be delayed or I would stay myself.  Will you escort us to your Lady?”  The wizard spoke common, not needing to impress either of the young beings he stood with and feeling a sense of urgency as Aragorn leaned more heavily against him. 

Thinking through the situation for the fraction of a second, the elf nodded curtly and pushed back through the warriors behind him, “You will follow me,” he instructed as he led them on.

“You mean to leave me with these elves that do not especially want me here?” Aragorn whispered through gritted teeth as he forced his body to move once more, “Please I beg you take me with you. The last time this happened I was accused of murder and exiled.”  He smiled slightly as Gandalf glanced at him a huge smile tugging at the corners of the old wizard’s lips. 

“My boy, I think you will find the welcome warmer than you did in Mirkwood at first; these elves are your relatives.  Galadriel is in a very distant way your Great Grandmother, your father is her Son-in-law.” He meant to put the youth’s mind at ease with his words and was surprised when a soft bark of laughter escaped the ranger’s lips. 

“My relatives. Oh joy. And I have made such a stunning first impression already.” The sarcastic comment caused the wizard to laugh out loud, his mirth contagious. 

“Don’t make me laugh, Gandalf, it hurts.” 

“Arwen might be here,” the wizard whispered conspiratorially. 

“WHAT!?!?” Aragorn stopped moving and pulled back, staring at the older man. “Who told you?” 

With a small shake of his head the wizard wrapped his arm back around the young man’s waist and started them moving again.  Their guide was watching the outburst, one fair eyebrow quirked upward in silent question as he waited for them to catch up.  

“I know all sorts of things,” Gandalf replied with a quiet laugh. “Not to mention the look on your face when reference is made of her.  It’s only obvious.”

“It’s not that obvious,” Aragorn grumbled darkly.

“More than you know.” Gandalf glanced back to see why their guides had stopped. “Ah, here we are.”  The wizard deftly changed the subject, redirecting his companion’s gaze.  “That, Aragorn, is where your relatives live.” 

“Caras Galadon,”  the elf next to him spoke quietly as they looked on the huge forest palace of the Lothlórien elves.


“I can’t walk any farther.” Aragorn gently pushed himself away from Gandalf and eased down onto the ground at the base of a tall tree.  A huge spiraling staircase wrapped the massive trunk and he was half afraid that the wizard intended to force him to climb it.  

Closing his eyes, the ranger rested his head against the rough bark and tried to relax.  The bright light of the midday sun hurt his eyes, but here under the interwoven canopies the lights were soft and comforting.  The darkness behind his closed eyelids beckoned and before he realized it, Aragorn had fallen asleep. 

When he woke it was to the gentle brush of fingertips on his cheek, moving the wayward strands of hair away from his face.  Feverish silver eyes opened and he was surprised by the beauty of the elf that knelt before him.  Her gaze was piercing as though her eyes held all the wisdom of the universe beneath their transparent depths, but the look she gave the young man was full of compassion unlike the warriors they had met earlier.  Her proximity startled him and the ranger jumped slightly, banging his head back against the tree behind him.  He winced and reached up to touch his head, but the elf crouched in front of him gently took his hand in her own, turning his palm over and letting her fingers lightly play over the ring that Aragorn wore. 

Galadriel turned to glance up at Gandalf and the wizard stiffly knelt next to her.  “It is as you say, Mithrandir.” She spoke softly and Aragorn found himself enraptured by the sound of her voice.  

A small smile broke across her lips as she glanced at the young human who was watching her so intently.  “But I fear there is more damage in his body than you realize.”  She pressed the palm of her free hand against Aragorn’s forehead, the fingers of her right hand seeking out the pulse that beat in his left wrist that she still held.  Aragorn found himself flinching slightly as she moved closer to him.  “Do not be afraid. You are safe here.” She spoke quietly to the man. 

Standing gracefully she turned and glanced behind them, addressing someone that Aragorn had not realized stood just beyond her.  “He is ill.”  The regal looking elf she spoke to nodded and at his command two warriors raced off heading deep into the woods. 

Gandalf frowned into the tired eyes that gazed dully at him. “You thought to hide it from me.” 

“I get sick, Gandalf. I am human. It would have been nothing more than a cold if we had not run into that wraith.  I would have been fine.” He spoke quietly, a little disoriented by all the sudden attention.  How he simply wished for his own bed and family. 

“You are missing your own?” Galadriel asked the ranger as though she could read his mind, which was not far from the truth.  Aragorn simply nodded as a lordly elf with long flowing blonde hair stepped next to Gandalf and drew him aside. 

“You say you met up with a wraith?  Near our borders?”  The elf questioned the Maia worriedly, his conversation hidden in elvish. 

“We did.” Aragorn whispered as the female elf knelt once more by his side. 

She smiled softly as she realized that the human could understand their language. “Of course I should have know he would have taught you to speak the high tongues first, did he not?” she asked cryptically. 

Aragorn wasn’t sure if he was just too sick to understand her questioning or if the question had even been meant for him.  Seeing his confusion the lady continued, explaining herself softly.  “I am Galadriel, Lady of these woods, and the one who speaks with Mithrandir is my husband, Celeborn.” 

“Arwen’s grandparents.”  Aragorn was surprised that he had spoken out loud, his thoughts were fuzzy and it hurt to think.  Of course he had heard of them before, chiefly from Arwen when they had been together, since she spent far more time here than her brothers or father did.  He closed his eyes.  Just perfect.  This was not the kind of first impression he would have liked to make.

“Yes.  My daughter is Arwen’s mother.”  She let the meaning sink in slowly as she undid the sling that held Aragorn’s arm to his chest.  He winced and drew his breath in, holding it against the pain that movement brought on. 

Galadriel continued speaking, “We have the knowledge to reset your shoulder and your collar bone.  The wound you incurred in battle will heal well, but your illness...” She stopped and gazed into the fever bright eyes, “I have not dealt with the likes before.  That is something that we have little knowledge of here for few are the outsiders who pass beneath these trees and elves do not get sick, young human.” 

“I know.” Aragorn muttered darkly. “My brothers constantly remind me of the fact.”  Had he been more himself and felt less like he was on the verge of passing out once more he probably would not have interrupted the elven Lady. 

“I imagine they do.  And that brings me to my point.” She smiled as Aragorn blushed, realizing his mistake. “There is one that I know of that has knowledge of healing for both men and elves and that one is Elrond.  He has just taken leave of our borders; Celeborn has sent sentries to call him back.  He will be here shortly and he will know what to do.” 

“My father was here?” He spoke the words in elvish; it was easier to concentrate on his native language.  He didn’t think to ask how they had known to send runners even before he and Gandalf arrived in Caras Galadon, but in time he would learn that there was nothing which passed the borders of this land of which Galadriel was unaware. 

Galadriel tipped her head slightly at the words. She had known that her son-in-law had taken the human in and given him refuge, but then Elrond had fostered all the heirs of Isildur; she had not realized that this young man had also won the elf lord’s heart and taken on the role of a son.  

“Yes,” her answer echoed oddly in Aragorn’s ear, as though he were a long way away from the one who spoke it, “he is on his way.  Hold on until he gets here young one. It will not be long.”  The Lady of the Woods’ words circled in his mind and the ranger was not sure he had even heard them with his ears or they had simply been spoke into the darkness of his thoughts. 

“Rest...just rest...”  His tired body could not resist and he slipped away into unconsciousness.