Dark Visions

Chapter 2

by Cassia and Siobhan

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Consciousness returned slowly and it seemed to take great effort for Aragorn to turn his head to the side.  He could sense someone sitting next to him.  Dully he recognized his father, a smile creeping onto his lips.  The elf lord was sitting crosslegged on the ground near Aragorn’s bower, his head resting in his hand, sound asleep. 

“Ada,” Aragorn whispered, his smile widening when Elrond started and stared down at his human son.  “I told Gandalf it would be better at home.”

Elrond leaned forward, touching the palm of his hand against the cool skin of the ranger’s face. “We are not home, my son, we are in Lothlórien.  Do you not remember?” 

Aragorn frowned up at the familiar face, sorting through the fuzzy recollections of his immediate past.  “I remember Gandalf...” 

“He has had to travel on without you.  He leaves his apologies and his blessings for a speedy recovery.  There was trouble in Rohan. He could not linger although he wished it greatly.” The sound of Elrond’s soft voice was comforting. 

“I remember a lady also. She said you were related to her?”  The ranger sighed deeply, letting the flitting memories go. “She was pretty,” he murmured softly.  His tired mind would not cooperate with him. 

Elrond laughed quietly at his son’s comment. “Yes, I dare say she is.  She is my wife’s mother, sister of the departed Finrod Felegund and daughter of Fingolfin all of whom you ought to remember if you did not spend all your history lessons looking out the window...” The elf lord’s smile was gentle.

The human watched him tiredly, nodding; he remembered something to that effect and would have recalled a lot more if he had been feeling better.  The oddness of Elrond being away from Rivendell dawned slowly in his mind and he questioned his father on it. “Why are you here?”  It wasn’t what he meant but the elf lord understood. 

“I am here because you are ill and because we were just leaving Lothlórien ourselves.  Your brothers and I had stopped through to pick up Arwen and escort her home for a short stay.” 

Aragorn glanced around them, searching for signs of elves that he might know. “Where are they now?” 

“Your brothers?”  Elrond questioned for clarification continuing when Estel nodded. “They have gone back with Arwen.  Although she claimed not to need the company, I would not have her travel alone in these days.  Celeborn’s messengers reached us midday two days ago and I returned with them then.  Doubtless they all would have come back if they had known the nature of the summons.  But the messengers said only that Galadriel requested my presence, and we all assumed it was council business until I actually arrived.  We did not know you were in this area, Estel.”  

“Two days ago?”  Aragorn was still stuck several sentences back.  “It has been that long?” 

“Yes.”  The elf lord threw a handful of athelas into a tiny, boiling pot that sat near Aragorn’s head.  The human smiled softly; that was the familiar scent that had so reminded him of home.  “You were more ill than you admitted to being.  For a little while they feared for your life.  Why didn’t you tell Gandalf that you were not well?” 

“It would not have mattered had we not been overtaken by those orcs.  It would have been no more than a cold, I know for a fact.  But we walked all night and I pushed too hard,” he finally admitted to his father, casting his gaze down to the sling that held his right arm against his chest.  He fiddled with a frayed edge of the cloth before meeting Elrond’s eyes once more. 

“Without letting anyone know.”  The elf lord watched the human. 

“Yes.” The simple admission was spoken quietly. “Please don’t lecture me.  I hate being here as much as you.” 

Aragorn was startled as his father laughed. “I do not hate being here, Estel, nor being called to return.  This is one of the most beautiful places on all Arda.  What I hate is when I see you endanger yourself needlessly.” 

“This is bordering on a lecture,” Aragorn warned, playfully slipping into elvish. 

Their conversation was interrupted by a quiet voice whose power was not belied by the softness of the spoken words. “So it is, and you deserve one, young human.” Galadriel stooped slightly and entered the open-aired room.  She favored Elrond with a smile before turning her gaze upon Aragorn. “How is he?” 

“He is doing much better now,” Elrond answered for his son, idly checking the bandage that covered the gash on the man’s leg.  “His wounds are healing and his fever is gone.  I’d say he was on the mend.”  

Dark silver eyes were watching him closely as Aragorn followed his father’s movements.  His leg was stiff but the fiery pain that he remembered was gone.  His right arm, however, was bound tightly to his shoulder and a sling prevented it from moving.  He ached when he moved but he could tell that his dislocated shoulder had been reset while he had been unconscious. 

“Estel, this is Galadriel. She is the Lady of these woods,” Elrond said by way of introduction. 

“We have met but I doubt that you remember.”  Galadriel inclined her head. “I have heard much about you, since your father returned.” She smiled at the two of them.  As she watched them she was struck by how very much they did resemble one another.  It was no small matter for her to accept the human as Elrond’s son, since that placed a bond of kinship between them as well, yet her heart told her that it was not for naught that he had been named Estel.  “When you are better, you are welcome to dine with us.  But tonight we will have refreshments brought to you.” 

“Elrond, if I may have a word?”  Galadriel motioned towards the exterior of the canopied room walking out ahead of the elf lord when he nodded his acceptance of her request. 

He gently reached out and touched Estel’s chest, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Rest. I’ll be back shortly.” Quickly rising to his feet he joined Galadriel and walked with her out of earshot of the human. 

The elves rounded the base of one of the huge towering trees that comprised the interior of Caras Galadon and Aragorn smiled contentedly to himself.  Secretly he was very glad they had sent for his father.  He closed his eyes and listened to the lilting voices of the elves high up in the trees hidden from his view. Their soft singing and conversations created a soothing sound in his ears.  He was relieved. This did not promise to be anything like his first visit to Mirkwood had been.  With a smile, he laid his head back down on the soft pillow and rested.  He hated being sick; he needed to get better and soon.  It may not be his home that he rested in, but having Elrond close by, it was starting to feel like it. 


The soft sounds of night muted together, but they were lost on the young man who lay restless and gently tossing in his sleep.  

No, no, no... it was all wrong, all wrong... and he couldn’t stop it.  There was nothing he could do.  Nothing.  Emptiness, crushing emptiness.  He was gone.  He was gone and he couldn’t hold onto him... 

Aragorn jerked awake his eyes wide, his body tense as he sat up quickly in bed, throwing the light covers off of himself. 

“Legolas?!”  He glanced about trying to get his bearings, the soft lights of the night helping to ground him back to reality.  Even in the black of night Caras Galadon was never completely dark.  A soft blue-white light continually lit the stairwells and sparkled in the tree tops.  The elves themselves seemed to radiate even more of a glow here than he had noticed in Mirkwood or Rivendell.  Aragorn had finally begun to be used to this place and to love its beauty and timelessness.  It was like, and yet unlike, Rivendell. 

As the fear of the dream that had woken him wore off, so too did the stranglehold of the images that had terrified him. He brushed the hair out of his face with his free hand, holding his head gingerly and allowing his forehead to rest against his knees, drawn tightly to his chest; still being careful of his injured shoulder. 

His arm was healing quickly and the break in his collarbone was knitting itself well in the time he and Elrond had spent beneath the elven canopy of Lothlórien. Although Aragorn was nearly healed, his body had still not caught up to his will and, as he stiffly tried to move his right arm, the bone-deep ache and discomfort from being unable to move it out of the sling just yet grated on him a little. His mind was distracted from the pain, snagged on the whirling afterimages of his latest nightmare. 

His latest one... 

The dreams had started over a week ago.  They plagued his sleep and robbed him of rest.  Every night they returned, insistent, demanding.  Sometimes it was the same images over and over again, sometimes just the horrible pressing feeling that something was terribly wrong and all the dreams and feelings seemed to center on Legolas.  The impressions the night terrors left were that his friend was in trouble, grave danger, and that he, Aragorn could not help.  Always they ended the same - the ranger came too late and was continually left with an utterly helpless feeling of loss and sorrow. 

Breathing in deeply and slowly, Aragorn stilled the fears chasing through his heart.  He had it in mind to seek out his friend as soon as he was well.  In fact he attributed the dreams to his illness and tried to just ignore them.  His elven father had foresight but surely he did not.  Perhaps if he worked up the courage he would ask Elrond about it.  Thus far he had kept his troubling dreams to himself. 

Lying carefully back down so as not to disturb the elderly elf he shared his open-aired room with, he turned his thoughts to his brothers, to happier times.  He wondered how Gandalf was doing and where he was, for he had most likely left Rohan already.  Then he wondered what his brothers were doing and realized idly that he was doing everything possible to not fall asleep again. 

Turning gingerly onto his side he watched his father sleeping.  The elf lord’s eyes were half lidded, deep in rest.  A smile touched his lips as he recalled the first time he had found his father asleep not long after he had been brought to Rivendell.  Thoughts of his family soothed the anxieties that he couldn’t quite banish.  He had nearly allowed sleep to steal over him once more when both ranger and elf lord were awakened as the peace of the night was shattered by a contingent of elves racing past their open chambers, heading towards Galadriel and Celeborn’s resting place. 

The echoes of an argument rose audibly as a second party approached them. 

“I recognize that voice,” Elrond spoke sleepily, glancing quickly at his son. 

But the ranger was on his feet and running towards the lower glen.  He recognized the voice as well, and on the heels of his latest nightmare it filled his heart with urgency.  “It’s Trelan!” he called back, not waiting for his father to join him. 

The ranger’s bare feet made his approach nearly impossible to detect and Aragorn slowed as he came upon the contingent of warriors who had woken them.  The elves were gathered around a single person, who was not coming with them willingly. 

“You don’t understand! I was not alone. You must let me go, I have to find my friends. They can help. I cannot stay here!”  The elf warrior’s voice was slurred with delirium, but rose to near panic before his argument was cut off by a groan of pain. 

“Do not speak folly.  You cannot go out in this condition, you cannot even walk,” a soft elven voice tried to persuade the one they kept in their midst.  “It is not safe outside our borders at night and you can go no further or you will kill yourself!” 

“But Legolas is out there!” the strained voice protested, pain, concern and guilt mingling freely.  

“Trelan!” Aragorn gained the edge of the party and pushed through the warriors, heedless of the glares and frowns his presence caused.  When he reached the center of the tight circle, his mouth dropped in surprise and a small cry of anguish broke from his lips. 

He knelt down next to a stretcher that had been crudely and swiftly fashioned to carry his friend; it rested on the carpet of grass beneath their feet and a Lórien elf crouched beside it, trying vainly to keep the smaller wood elf from further hurting himself.  Blood caked Trelan’s face and matted in the tangled locks of his blond hair.  Swelling bruises outlined his cheekbones and his arm was obviously broken.  The fingers of his right hand that clutched his shoulder, trying to damp the pain, were scraped and cut as though he had been dragged or fallen on sharp rocks.  The small elf took short painful gasps of air as he spoke, trying to breathe around the ache of broken ribs.  Huge, red-rimmed eyes turned on Aragorn, and the ranger could see where tears had streaked through the dirt on his friend’s cheeks. 

“Trelan,” Strider leaned forward and pulled the elf against him gingerly, his heart breaking at the sight.  “What happened to you?” he whispered softly. 

“Legolas...” The small elf just repeated the prince’s name, “We have to find him. I lost him Aragorn, I lost him.” 

“Shh... we will, Trelan, we will.  But first let us take care of you.”  Fear spiked through the ranger’s heart at the elf’s words but he silenced it quickly.  Gently pushing Trelan back, the human took the warrior’s bruised face in his hands and forced him to focus.  “Trelan, who did this to you and why?” 

“I do not know what they wanted.  A group of men...they chased us and split us up.  I was unhorsed and fell.  I was caught beneath their horses.” He touched his arm gently as though noticing it was broken for the first time.  “They did not care or even wait to see if I had lived; they took Kynter with them.” Trelan’s eyes were huge and he jerked slightly as Elrond pushed through the circle of elves and knelt next to his son.  If Aragorn did not know Kynter was Trelan’s horse, he would have thought the injured warrior spoke of another elf, but he was not surprised; he knew how elves felt about their horses. 

“Trelan.”  The elf lord’s voice was soft but held an authority that could not be denied. “You are wounded. Let us see to your injuries. You can tell us what happened later.” 

Not to be dissuaded the younger elf shook his head and gazed back at Aragorn, locking eyes with the ranger. “Strider, I lost the prince.  I do not know where he is or if he...” His voice faltered and he winced holding his breath as a wave of pain swept through his body. 

Elrond stood swiftly to his feet and pushed two of the elves forward that were standing beside him; they could waste no more time.  Trelan’s life was in danger.  “Enough. Quickly, pick up his stretcher and follow me to my rooms. He needs attention, immediately.” 

The Galadrim warriors were used to taking orders and did not question the elf lord but obeyed him, walking the wood elf away from the glen and towards the bed chambers that Lord Elrond had been using while he remained with them. 

Galadriel met them halfway, falling in step next to Elrond.  Gently she laid her hand upon the wounded elf’s forehead, bidding him strength.  

Celeborn walked past them, synching the belt on the over robe he wore.  He nodded quickly in acknowledgement and acceptance of his son-in-law’s demands on the Lothlórien warriors and called the captain of the guard to himself, requesting a full report. 

Aragorn grabbed the sleeve of the elf nearest him, gaining the warriors attention. “Tell me, how did you find him and where?” 

The elf hesitated, but seeing no need to keep anything hidden from the ranger who was obviously high in the favor of the Lord and Lady, he explained that they had found the other Silvan elf wandering their northernmost border, heading for the hills.  He was wounded and delirious but intent upon reaching Rivendell.  They had not the supplies to care for his injuries and had instead brought him here for help against his wishes. 

“It is a day’s journey from the southern border to Caras Galadon,” Aragorn noted softly. 

“It is.  We did not stop and made it in less than that.”  The elf’s piercing eyes held the ranger’s as he continued. “I think willpower alone must have been the only thing keeping him going.  I do not know how long he traveled but he had not food or water.  Once we were able to give him both, he became more coherent.  He said he was looking for Strider and that their friend, Legolas, had been lost.” 

Aragorn nodded numbly, his gaze dropping to the forest floor as the words sunk in.  Trelan had been searching for him.  He had known that the ranger was traveling with Gandalf through this region, for they had stopped by the palace not a full month ago.  A sudden thought struck him and he glanced quickly up at the warrior before him. 

“Was there any...” 

As though knowing the human’s thoughts the elf answered the yet unspoken question, shaking his head, “There was none other besides the one we returned with.  I know; I was sent back on our trail by my captain.  There were neither tracks nor signs of anyone else.  From the state we found him in, I would say that your friend had been wandering for some time before we came across him; the direction from which he came is impossible to guess, for he was delirious and crossed his own trail many times.” 

Aragorn closed his eyes and sighed deeply. 

“I am sorry.”  The elven warrior touched the ranger lightly before walking off with his contingent. 

“Thank you,” Aragorn whispered softly to the retreating forms.  He knew they had heard him. 


He was too late.  Again he was too late!  Legolas’ eyes drifted shut and he softly exhaled one last time.  He could hear Trelan’s cries “I lost him, I cannot find him.” 

Aragorn beat against the invisible bonds that held him back helplessly as he struggled against his own powerlessness. 

“No...” The word was a mere whisper as it left the ranger’s lips but he had not even realized he had spoken so wrapped in the nightmare was he. 

The man tried to touch Legolas, tried to call him back, but all his attempts failed and the image of his friend swirled away, replaced by the painful emptiness of his passing.  Tears streamed down Aragorn’s face as he called out to his friend, Trelan’s sorrowful voice echoing his cries, taunting his helplessness. 

“I lost him, Aragorn..."

“I lost him!”  Aragorn repeated the words in his sleep, his distress in the nightmare hedging into reality as he fought to stop the vicious cycle of the dream. “NO!” 


The heart wrenching cries woke Lord Elrond from a deep, exhausted sleep.  For the better part of the day he had cared for the Silvan elf that had been brought into their midst.  Trelan’s injuries had been severe and Galadriel had seen to it that Elrond was given access to all the supplies he needed to ensure the small warrior was given the very best care.  They had set him up in his own room with someone to watch him at all times should the elf lord be needed.  He was unconscious now, and that was not expected to change any time soon.  Elrond doubted he would awaken for several days.  His body had taken too much damage; it needed rest to heal.  As much as they all wanted to find out more details about what had happened, any further news from Trelan was going to have to wait.  Perhaps for quite a while.  

Elrond sat up quickly, throwing the light covers off of as he turned towards the source of the cries: Aragorn. 

His human son was caught in the throes of a nightmare, fighting within himself.  Tears streaked the ranger’s face and his breathing was quick and fast. 

Aragorn tried to press forward and fight back the darkness, tried to cover his ears from the sounds of his friend’s voice calling to him.  He moved his right arm swiftly in his sleep, nearly hitting his father in his attempts to shut everything out.  The motion sent a wave of pain shooting up his arm and he cried out, his eyes flying open and locking on the blue ones that stared down at him. 

Elrond held the sides of his son’s face, speaking quietly to him, trying to get the boy to wake up.  He ducked the wild swing of Aragorn’s hand and gently grabbed the ranger’s wrist, laying his wounded arm back against his chest and sliding his hands once more to the young man’s face. 

Aragorn’s eyes were wide as he looked around them, frantically trying to force reality back into perspective.  He glanced quickly to the draped doorway as an elven warrior brushed the fabric entry back and stepped cautiously inside. 

“Is everything all right, Lord Elrond?” 

“Yes.  Yes, thank you, everything is under control.”  The elf lord never took his gaze from his son’s face.  The silver eyes locked onto his as Aragorn slowly reached his left hand up and grasped his father’s forearm. 

With a curt nod the elf warrior stepped back out, giving the small family the privacy they needed. 

Elrond gently traced his thumbs under Aragorn’s eyes, wiping away the stray tears as the ranger’s breathing evened out and he began to calm down. 

For several moments the elf lord simply knelt beside the young man quietly, waiting while Aragorn composed himself.  With a slight, somewhat embarrassed nod the ranger acknowledged he was fine and Elrond sat back, giving him more space and helping him to sit up. 

Closing his eyes, Aragorn took a deep, shaky breath releasing the tension that had bound him up in his nightmare.  When he opened his eyes again, Elrond was watching him closely.  The ranger smiled nervously; running his hand back through his hair, he dropped his gaze to the floor.  Surely he was too old to be waking up with nightmares and having to have his father comfort him.  All the same, he was not a bit sorry that Elrond was there.  The elf’s mere presence radiated calm, as it always had. 

“I just had a bad dream, that’s all,” Aragorn explained quietly.  “I’m sorry I woke you.” 

“That is all?”  Elrond echoed the casual dismissal questioningly.  The silence grew heavy between them before he continued, pressing for more. “It’s not the first one you’ve had.” 

“You know about them?”  Aragorn was surprised. He thought that he had been quiet enough and not woken the elderly elf. 

With a small smile Elrond shook his head. “Not until just now.” 

Aragorn grimaced; he’d been caught.  He shook his head and smiled softly.  “Yes, I have been having night terrors for the past two weeks...” 

He stopped talking, his gaze dropping to the fingers of his left hand, twining a loose thread from his sling as he fidgeted nervously. 

Elrond’s large hand covered his own, stilling his movements. “Estel?” 

“They...they’ve been about Legolas.”  Aragorn glanced up through the strands of hair that had fallen about his face, answering the question his father had not asked.  It didn’t matter how old he became... something about Elrond would always make him feel like a little boy.  Surprisingly enough that wasn’t a bad thing.  

Elrond nodded, encouraging his son to continue.  He brushed the hair gently away from his son’s eyes. “And?” 

The words tumbled out fast and furious, the relief at being forced to speak of them easing his fears.  “And every time I am too late.  He is gone.  There is a terrible sense of loss as though Legolas is in danger and I cannot help him.  It replays over and over whenever I fall asleep; I can get no rest.  Tonight was the worst though.  After Trelan was found in the shape he was and his report of losing Legolas to someone, somewhere... I am sure that some ill has befallen him.  I know they are just dreams, but surely there must be something wrong.  You know, father, that I have not had nightmares for years.  Why now?  Why Legolas?  Can you see anything?  Can you tell me anything?  I need to know.” 

Elrond gazed quietly into the silver eyes beseeching him.  There was so much the young man did not know even about himself.  When he finally spoke, his voice was soft and low and he switched without thought to elven, “They may just be dreams. Or they may not.  My son, you must understand that there is much strength and power in you that you have yet to fully discover. You are descended from the line of the ancient kings, Númenorean kings.  Within you is the power of insight, of far-seeing.  It would not surprise me if you have the gift of foresight in your own way, although you may not yet understand aright that which you see.” 

Aragorn watched him wordlessly, wondering on the further revealing of his heritage and the innate strengths and weaknesses that went with it. 

“One day this gift will serve you well, but now it is still only waking within you, untried and untrained.  It may be that Legolas is not in the trouble that you think him to be.  Visions are not always what they seem.  Sometimes we see only that what we fear, instead of that which is.” 

“But father I...” 

Elrond raised his hand and stopped his son from interrupting.  “Of Legolas’ future I am unsure.  Whatever troubles you for him is not readily apparent to me or I would tell you, Estel.”  He paused, as if considering something.  “There are ways to look closer, tools to bring such visions into clearer focus if you will, but they are not to be used lightly or on a whim.  Nor are they easy for the untrained to master.” 

“This is no whim, Ada, I know it.” Aragorn touched his chest lightly. “The dread does not leave me now even in waking.  If there is a way to find out more, I would hear it.” 

Nodding slowly, Elrond conceded.  He held up his left hand and splayed his fingers; Vilya glinted brightly in the soft elven light.  “You know of the power of Vilya and I have told you there are other rings of power in Middle-earth.  So I will tell you a secret, Estel, that must never go beyond this conversation.  Galadriel is the keeper of Nenya, ring of Adamant, with power over the element of water among many other things.  She is powerful among the Noldor, more so than even myself for she alone on Middle-earth is left of those elves who originally came over from Valinor.”  Elrond smiled slightly despite himself.  The twins thought he had never heard their light-hearted jests, but it was true, what they had laughed about as children; they could actually say that their grandmother was older than the sun.  Bringing himself back to the moment, the elf lord continued his original train of thought. 

“She has a mirror that those who are allowed to look upon may use to see what the possible future holds and many other things if they are able.  Few are the Firstborn who have been privileged to gaze upon it and of mortals even fewer.  Yet it may be that she will allow you to look into the mirror if you ask it of her.” 

Aragorn glanced to the ring fitted about his own finger, his thoughts swirling wildly through what he knew and what he had been told. 

“Tomorrow, if you like, we will go to Galadriel and you may ask her,” Elrond offered. 

“I would like to if it will help to know what has happened.  It may be that I am wrong, but it would put my heart at ease to know if that is the case,” Aragorn answered quietly. 

His father’s hand on his shoulder redirected his attention and the ranger gazed back up into the blue, ageless eyes.  “Very well.  Understand though, Estel, that people do not always see what they wish to see.  But tonight you need to rest.  Will you be able to sleep, my son?” 

Aragorn smiled and stifled a small laugh. “You mean will I be able to sleep on my own or would I like you to fix me some of that awful tea you make when you wish to put me to sleep?” 

A gentle laugh escaped Elrond’s lips and he shook his head. “You and your brothers will be the death of me yet, not to mention those Silvan elf friends of yours.” 

Stiffly Aragorn lay back down and rolled onto his side, watching as the elderly elf leaned against the pillows propped behind his head.  “I will be all right now, Father.  I will sleep.” 

“If you should wake...” 

Elrond stopped speaking as Aragorn closed his eyes, a broad smile stretching across his face.  He quietly interrupted the elf lord, “Yes I know. I promise I will wake you and if I cannot sleep I will tell you.” He sighed slowly and deeply as sleep overtook him once more; his body had not yet caught up with his spirit and was worn out. 

Elrond watched his adopted son long into the night.  The young man was growing up before his eyes, assuming the power and the rights that were his and yet he had such a long way to go.  As fast as Aragorn seemed to be growing up to him, Elrond knew that he was blessed in a way because if the ranger did not have the timeless life span of an immortal, at least Aragorn did not age quite so quickly as other humans.  His Númenorean blood kept him young and age came more slowly than was normal, but maturity... maturity had been there for some time and lately Elrond could see it blossoming before his eyes.  The awakening of the human’s potential foresight and his increasing strength of will were signs of that. 

The elf lord cast his thoughts out into the tumult of the future.  There were ripples there that were not right, dark touches that bespoke a nameless fear, and uncertainty entwined the destinies of his human son and Aragorn’s most frequent elven companion.  He shook off the coldness that had crept into his own heart at the whispers the future held.  Elrond, of all people, knew that the future was an ever-changing, unrelenting flow of possibilities and nothing was certain until it had passed.  Easing down onto the soft bedding beneath him he turned on his side, facing Aragorn, and closed his eyes.  Worry would do him no good, nor would it bring the future on any more quickly.  They would find out what they needed to know tomorrow.  It would be interesting to see how the boy handled the fledgling power that was waking in him. 

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