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Crossroads of Time

Chapter 1: Crossroads of Time

by ellie

Title: Crossroads of Time
Author: Ellie
Betas: Fianna, Julie, and my husband who doesn’t have a screen name yet
Chapter: 1/?
Rating: PG for now
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters. They belong to JRR Tolkien and I am only borrowing them for a while. I make no money from this.
Cast: Glorfindel, Ecthelion, Idril, Turgon, OFCs and OMCs
Summary: A woman not of Arda but in the position of being able to change Arda’s past, finds herself becoming a part of it instead. Not a Mary Sue.
Feedback: Please let me know what you think. This is my first fan fic and the longest story I've ever written.

Chapter 1

The flash of brilliant white light dissipated, leaving Ariella dizzy and confused. She fell hard onto her hands and knees, bowing her head with her eyes squeezed tightly shut. She slowly took one deep shaky breath and then another, waiting for the wave of nausea to subside. After a few more breaths, she felt a little bit better. With another deep encouraging breath, she opened her eyes and gradually focused.
“Grass,” she whispered aloud. “Dirt…Rocks…I made it. I made it! I’m here! Here…hurts.”

She shifted into a sitting position, squinting a bit in the bright sunlight, and examined the “heres” that hurt. Her palms were dirty and bloody, imprinted with tiny pebble marks. She painfully sat up and pulled up her dress to reveal two scraped and bloody knees. She sighed shakily, “Gotta focus, Ariella. You’ll never make it through the next four hours like this.”

She closed her eyes again, took a deep breath and felt all of the pain wash away. Opening her eyes, she looked critically at her right palm. Passing her left hand over it, she watched the little wounds close up and the imprints vanish. Passing her left hand back over it again, she watched the wet blood disappear. She examined her left hand and healed it with her right. With a satisfied smirk, Ariella brushed her hands together in a vain attempt at clearing away the dirt. Passing her hands over her knees, she healed both knees at the same time.

“Ha,” she gloated, “even Mother couldn’t do that at my age. She’d be impressed if she could see me now.” She thought about it a moment longer. “Of course, if Mother knew I was here, she’d be so mad at me that she probably wouldn’t even notice my advanced healing abilities. But she sure seems to notice everything else in my life.”

Though it was customary for single people, even those well into adulthood like Ariella was, to live with their parents until they wed, Ariella sometimes felt it to be quite repressive. Even at breakfast this morning her parents had been at it.

“What will you be doing today, Ariella?” her father had asked.

“I’m helping Arzus with something at the Academy,” she had replied in a slightly bored voice. It was usually safest to sound vague and unenthused where her brilliant older brother was concerned.

“Does it have anything to do with the subject you teach or is it a subject of his choosing?” her mother had inquired.

“A little bit of both. It is really just some new gadget he’s been working on in his spare time. He said it’d take a few hours to show me all it can do,” Ariella answered trying to sound like she was doing her brother a huge favor in going to see his latest “gadget”. “I probably won’t be home for lunch.”

“You usually spend your weekends in Imladris. Elrond has commented more than once that he is impressed with your progress in studies of languages and lore. I’m surprised you’re being so generous with your time,” her father had observed suspiciously.

The man could see right through her! She hated having a telepathic father! “I owe Arzus a favor,” she had lied, trying to block the rest of her thoughts about the day ahead. “Besides I’ll probably go to Imladris later this afternoon or this evening anyway. I don’t want to miss any of the stories or songs in the Hall of Fire.”

Her mother and father gave her that “concerned parent look” that only seasoned parents can muster from the depths of too many “experiences” with too many of their children.
Her mother finally looked down at her food, but her father continued to stare at her critically. She felt his mind brush hers, but her block must have been at least partially successful because her father finally sighed and said, “Well, stay out of trouble, Child.”

Ariella could have sworn she had caught an added thought from her father to the effect of and we’ll sort out the mess when you get back.

*~*

Eager to get underway with her task, Ariella stood up and tried unsuccessfully to brush the stains and dirt from her dress, noting the small tears at the knees. “Oh well, Arzus can just get me a new traveling dress,” she muttered, straightening up.

She raised her right wrist, passed her left hand over it thinking about the time, and glanced at the timepiece that had appeared. Three hours and forty-five minutes to go. “I can’t believe it took fifteen whole minutes to get acclimated!” She exclaimed. “Arzus sure misjudged that one. No one else took fifteen minutes to get settled after they arrived. Of course I’ve gone further than any of the other volunteers did. Well, time to get to work.” She passed her hand back over the timepiece on her wrist thinking about it being gone and it vanished.

Finally taking in her surroundings, Ariella realized she was standing in a gully. The local terrain was dry, with scrubby vegetation and incredibly rocky like an old riverbed that had slept with one too many stones in its day. “If the rocks in its bed give a stream its song, this bard must have sung epics,” she said to herself as she scanned the area. There were mountains close at hand to the east. She could not see much else, so she carefully picked her way through the rocks and clambered up the western side of the gully. A river flowed off in the distance and a forest loomed further behind that. The flora near the river was more lush and interesting that what she had seen in the gully. The river would be her destination.

She dug her left hand into the brown leather travel pack that was slung diagonally across her chest, groping for the specimen container and measuring device. She rummaged around past a leaf-wrapped pack of lembas bread, a skin of water, and a sheathed dagger before pulling out an old wooden hairbrush.

She passed her hand over the back of the hairbrush thinking about the air measuring device and an instrument panel displayed on the back of the brush. All of the readouts were blank. She waved the brush in the air over her head a few times, then brought it back down to read it. The air temperature, gaseous content of the air, and various other measurements flickered on the display.

“Hmph, it is hot outside today,” she said. Ariella thought of the information being saved and the panel reset for scanning dirt. The brush’s panel blinked a couple of times, and then the screen went blank. She squatted down and ran the brush’s bristles through the dirt until all of the appropriate measurements appeared once more on the display. She thought of the information being saved again, arose, and set off toward the river. As she passed various plants, she touched the brush bristles to the leaves and recorded information about them. She also plucked some of the leaves and put them in her pack.

She finally reached the strong flow of the river. She closed her eyes for a moment basking in the sounds of the crashing water. She loved the music of water. Sighing, she opened her eyes and made her way to the edge of the river. She sat on the bank and trailed her hand in the water for a couple of minutes, savoring the cold wetness. Finally, feeling the burden of uncompleted tasks and diminishing time, Ariella swished the brush in the water until she saw the readout flicker. She saved the information, closed the panel, and put the brush away. Noticing the lengthening shadows of the day, she realized it would be dark soon. She checked her time device and saw that she still had about an hour and a half left before she returned. Excellent!

Everything was going according to plan. She desperately hoped she would get to see the stars before she left. Her brother needed measurements of them to figure out where she was. All she really cared about was seeing if they really were brighter in this age. Or, maybe the old elves were just being nostalgic when it came to the stars. Not that an elf would ever be nostalgic! She snickered at the thought. She glanced at the sun beginning its spectacular descent below the horizon. “The sunsets in this Age sure are nice,” she sighed.

Well, one task left to go. Find a tissue sample from a living organism to see what the trip back would do to it and to the leaves she had collected. She briefly considered trying to catch a fish, but realized it would not only be dead from lack of water, but it would also probably start stinking by the time she returned. So that wouldn’t work. She rose to her feet and looked around for any likely candidates.

There were birds in the trees, but that was about it. “Well,” she figured, “animals have to drink, so I’ll just sit back by the bushes and wait for something to come along. I only need a bit of hair and some skin cells.”

Ariella drew a small metal scraping device from her pack, then moved to sit beside the bushes. She pulled up her hood to hide her long bright hair and tucked the folds of her cloak around her to hide her body. She stilled, letting the river’s song pull her into reverie. She hated waiting.

*~*

She thought about her brother’s amusement and exasperation at how quickly she had devised her plans for the trip. He had asked her to lunch a few weeks before to tell her about his success with his new creation. Of course the conversation hadn’t started that way. First he had asked her, between mouthfuls of food, where and when she would most like to go if she could go to any point in time on any planet. Her answer had been predictable enough.

“First Age. Middle Earth. Arda,” she had replied.

“Why then and there,” he had humored her knowing the answer already.

“Because I think it was the greatest time in elvish history on Middle Earth, with so many impressive and powerful elves newly come from Valinor. And none of the elves were weary of Middle Earth like they are now. Besides, I want to know if the stars really were brighter back then than they are now, like Celeborn and some of the others say.”

Her brother laughed. He placed his elbows on the table, clasped his hands and leaned forward with his index fingers pressed to his lips. His food seemingly forgotten, he said in a low voice, “what if I told you that you really could go to that time and place? That my latest invention moves people through time AND space, and that I’ve already successfully sent nine volunteers to various places in the both past and the future?”

Ariella leaned forward. “Are you serious?” she whispered excitedly.

“Yes,” he replied smugly, quite pleased by her excitement.

She thought about it for a moment, then fairly bubbled, “When do I leave?”

He sat back for a moment and looked at her, his demeanor now quite serious. “There are a few things you need to understand. You can’t interact with anyone there. No one. Nobody. Zero people interaction. We run the risk of it changing history if you do. However, in case you do run into someone, you will need to look and act like you belong there until your time is up and you are transported back.”

Ariella’s smile faded, her mood subduing a bit.

“How long would I be there?”

“Four hours.”

She pondered the requirements. “I am fluent in Sindarin and Quenyan,” she said slowly. “I could wear my favorite traveling dress, which is similar to the Sindarin style. My cloak was made by the Galadhrim, so I should be able to hide from people as long as I don’t end up in a city somewhere.”

“Avoiding cities would be good,” Arzus observed.

“My hair is golden,” she continued, ignoring him as the excitement grew inside her again. “And I’m tall so I could pass as one of Hador’s people if I had to. My eyes are violet instead of blue, but I think I’ll be forgiven on that one if I run into any of those people. They do speak Sindarin, so I’ll be all right there, even if I can’t speak any mannish languages. When do I leave?”

Arzus sighed. “It’ll take some time for me to make the calculations for the jump, let alone trying to figure out the coordinates for a place that’s now underwater. A couple of months maybe?”

She gave him a disappointed look.

“Look,” he said in exasperation, “I built this thing in my spare time, okay? I have six little kids and a lovely elven wife who need my attention, as well as a full time job.”

Her disappointed look degenerated to a pitiful one.

“Don’t look at me like that. Please don’t,” he pleaded, then with an exaggerated sigh conceded. “How about the weekend after your birthday? That’ll be five weeks. Deal?”

“Deal!” she’d agreed and she held him to it.

*~*

So far, so good. She’d done her job and would soon be rewarded with her stars, AFTER she got her tissue sample, she hoped. Her patience was rewarded a few minutes later when a large ten point stag came up to the water to drink. She rose and cautiously approached it with her hands outspread. The deer raised its head as she spoke soothingly to it in Sindarin. She slowly reached out her right hand to pat the stag on the neck and head. It nuzzled her hand. She smiled as she caressed the soft brown fur and slipped her left arm around its neck in a light hug. She shifted the scraping device in her hand to a better position to get a good quick sample.

She registered the whooshing sounds and the sharp impacts at the same time.

The stag leaped from her grasp then fell, knocking her to the ground. Her left shoulder exploded in agony and her chest was crushed as the animal writhed, then stilled trapping her beneath it. Tears ran freely down her face as she gasped for air trying desperately to understand what had happened.

The pain was unbearable, paralyzing her entire left side with a stabbing liquid fire. She struggled feebly with her right arm trying to move the dead deer, but it was incredibly heavy. And, she realized, something was keeping it pinned to her. She grew frantic, confused by the terrible pain. She gasped for air, trying to calm down. What had happened?

She heard voices. Coming closer. Male voices, swearing in Quenyan!

“Did you see anything before we loosed our arrows?”

“No,” another voice replied. “Just a shadow in front of the stag. You?”

“I just saw the shadow too. I had no idea it was a person,” came the response.

Ariella squirmed painfully trying to see the owners of the voices, but the deer’s head obscured her vision. They must be Noldorin, she thought. I must keep that in mind.

Suddenly she felt something grip her shoulders pressing them down. The animal carcass shifted and began to lift from her. She stared, transfixed in nauseated horror as excruciating pain lanced through her and the fletching of two arrows came out of her shoulder and chest. The agonized scream she had been biting back finally escaped her lips.

Near her head, a rich melodic voice laced with guilt half shouted at her in Sindarin, “I am sorry! It was the only way to get the arrows out.”

She gasped small swallows of air, half blinded by tears and pain, and saw a beautiful face framed with long dark hair. Concern and horror shone in the piercing grey eyes that looked down into hers. By the brightness of his eyes, she knew he had seen the light of the Two Trees.

The one lifting the deer easily tossed it aside, the elf’s lustrous golden hair swinging across his back with the motion. He swiftly knelt beside her in a whirl of green cloak and deftly began to check her wounds. He was almost as handsome as the first elf, and had equally piercing grey eyes; he too must have seen the Trees. She struggled to breathe as he bent over her, the golden armor that encased his shoulders and chest glittering in the sunlight.

He glanced at her face, his eyes briefly meeting hers. Her thought and expression begged the question that she could not voice: Why did you do this to me?

He bowed his head and looked back to her wounds. His melodic voice was filled with sorrow as he apologized in Sindarin. “Sweet Elbereth. We did not see you there or we would not have loosed our arrows. We are so very sorry.”

She blinked as fresh tears ran down her cheeks when he exposed the wounds. She was unable to tear her gaze from his face. She had seen him before somewhere. She felt fingers gently brushing away the tears. Soothing words and apologies whispered above her from the dark-haired one. The pain was unbearable. Her mind grew numb as she slowly succumbed. Her parents’ wedding album…that was it…the golden one had been at her parents’ wedding. Then everything went dark.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Notes:

Quenyan and Sindarin – The primary languages of the elves. Quenyan was the language of the Noldor and was banned by King Thingol of Doriath after he learned of the Noldor’s crime of slaying his kin in Alqualonde in Aman. After the ban, the Noldor took Sindarin for daily use, but the lords of the Noldor spoke Quenyan among themselves. Both languages were spoken in Noldorin realms such as Gondolin.

Hador – The leader of one of the three kindreds of humans who first encountered the elves. His people were tall and, for the most part, golden haired and blue eyed. Hador was extremely tall and intelligent and was considered to be a peer of elven lords. His people were loyal to Fingolfin and his kin. Hador is the forefather of Hurin father of Turin slayer of Glaurung the dragon and of Huor who was the father of Tuor who in turn was the father of Earendil.

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Chapter name
Crossroads of Time
Created
30 Aug 2004
Last Edited
30 Aug 2004
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