“My lord,” Gandalf said, “I must warn you yet again of the danger of this course of action.”
“I am fully aware of the risk, friend,” Aragorn replied, strapping on his sword. “If it means getting my daughter back, it is worth the risk.”
“You do not even know for sure if this is the dimension she has been taken to. And even if it is. You have no idea where to look. And even if you did know where to look, how do you plan to return?”
“I will find a way,” he said. “The creatures did not have time to clean up their trails. Their texts found in the caves...”
“Yes, yes I know. The texts in the caves show specifically where they meant to take her. They speak of a being able to open forbidden worlds. And of the prophecy that the being would be born into a child. It is nothing I have not heard before. But you do not know if this child is Arien.”
“Elrond recognized the cave from his vision. He knows it was them, it has to be the one.” He paused. Gandalf sighed. It was no use. The King of Gondor, in all his wisdom, was an impulsive one at heart. And where protecting his family was concerned, there was no talking to be done.
“But you are right,” Aragorn said. Gandalf frowned a bit. He didn’t remember being right about anything. “I won’t know what to do when I get there. It is why I ask you to come with me.”
The wizard started. Aragorn lowered his eyes at his expression. “You have wisdom beyond mine. If we have any chance of finding her, I think you must come with me.” Gandalf’s resolve broke just a little as he saw the ex-Ranger sigh tiredly, the dark circles under his eyes growing deeper. “She’s been gone for three months, Mithrandir. Those who took her could be using her to enter dimensions of hell. Arwen is sinking more and more into sadness. I have to get her back. If not for me, if not for my kingdom, at least for my wife.” Gandalf gave a knowing smile after several long moments.
“I will come with you,” he finally said, “and give whatever aid is in my power to give to see the return of the Princess of Gondor.” Aragorn smiled wistfully, placing a hand on his ever-loyal friend’s should.
“I thank you, my friend.” Gandalf bowed respectfully, signaling his loyal service.
“It could be years before we find her,” he said. “What will happen to your kingdom?” Aragorn straightened as he went to don whatever weaponry he could.
“It will not be years. Faramir will handle things until my return. He is a good man; he will do well in my stead. Elrond is staying and Eowyn will help take care of Arwen. The hobbits have also volunteered to stay a while longer to keep her company.” Gandalf nodded.
“Frodo is deeply concerned for her. And for Arien. And for you.” Aragorn nodded.
“I know,” he replied. “I know he wishes to return to the Shire; but he knows his presence will do Arwen good. She knows he adored Arien very much.”
“When do you plan to embark on this journey, my friend?”
“Elrond is trying to translate the texts. The books we found seem to be an ancient form of Common Tongue. He has been trying to find which incantation opened the portal to the next world.”
“You say he is staying here, and not coming with you?”
“No,” Aragorn said. ‘Arwen needs his strength with her. Legolas shall also accompany us. We know not what dangers may lurk in the world to which she was taken. He has brings his bow to Arien’s aid.” Gandalf nodded, leaning on his staff.
The Queen of Gondor came into the room, bearing a large book in her hands. The usually radiant she-elf did not glow with the ethereal beauty as she usually did. Her eyes lay limp in her pretty head, tears threatening to well up as her husband stood waiting for her. Waiting to leave to follow where her daughter had been so unjustly taken.
Eowyn, Elrond, and Legolas followed behind her, both hating to see the queen in such a state.
“You are sure you want to do this?” she asked again, her face still holding a somber expression. Aragorn went to his wife, taking her arms in his hands as she continued to look down.
“I will return to you, I promise. I will find our daughter and I will bring her back to us.” She nodded, her tears escaping, but didn’t say anything. He kissed her on the forehead before looking at the ones who would accompany him to the world his daughter had been taken to. Legolas respectfully bowed to the king and Elrond stepped up to him.
“You are ready, then?” Elrond asked.
“Yes. I am ready.” The elf lord nodded, taking the book from Arwen.
“This is the book the creatures used to enter the world they have taken her to. It should work as well for us.” Aragorn nodded as Elrond turned to a certain page in the text, handing it back to Arwen. “This chant speaks of a door, I am sure. It should open up the door to the world the creatures disappeared to,” he told them. Arwen took the book, her eyes still downcast. With one final longing glance at her husband, she read the strange language in the book found.
Cum hoc carmine oro
Haec misera ora
ab nostro viso deflorescebit
Hanc portam aperi
Sure enough, the room was soon filled with an eerie glow as she began to speak. She willed herself to not lose concentration and continue reading. She felt as a strong wind began blowing around the room, almost pulling her into the light, but she planted her footing firmly. When she finished reading, she looked up at her husband and dear friends disappearing into a swirling vortex of light. It was too soon. Losing her daughter and now possibly, her husband. They locked eyes one last time before Aragorn let himself be taken by the light, and then they were gone.
Elrond watched as his daughter bowed her head and dropped towards the floor, sobbing taking over her. Eowyn, who had remained a silent vigil over her grieving queen, ran to her side before she could hit the ground, wrapping thin white arms around her.
“Do not worry, my lady,” Eowyn said. “They will return soon.” Arwen simply cried harder, burying her face into her friend’s shoulder.
“I’ve lost them both,” she whispered.
“No,” Elrond replied, “you have lost nothing. You will lose nothing. He will return and he will return with little Arien.”
“How?” she said, pulling away, her eyes red, looking at neither Eowyn nor her father. “What hope do we have?” Elrond smiled weakly, remembering his daughter’s words from not so long ago, kneeling in front of her as Eowyn held her.
“There is still hope.”
A king, an elf-prince, and a wizard were expecting a lot of things. Nothing could have prepared them for this world, though. Strange, swift moving metallic objects continuously sped by at a distance away on hard- surfaced roads. With people in them. It was night, but every building they saw was lit up brilliantly. Luckily, the place where they had landed was quite secluded. There were several stones places neatly in rows. At reading them, he realized they were resting places for the dead. That, they could at least recognize. The world they were in was strange indeed.
“It seems we have landed in a burial ground,” Aragorn stated. He turned around to his companions.
“Yes, yes, it would seem so,” Gandalf concurred as he looked around at the series of stone markers accompanied with scattered bouquets of flowers. Something was... off. His vigil grey eyes searched the grounds, looking for what was calling to his magical senses. He finally spotted what he was looking for a few metes away.
“Here it is,” he finally said, leaning forward to the blood pool on the ground.
“Here is what?” Legolas asked, going to his side.
“This blood is potent. It might have drawn us here.”
“What would bleed here?” Aragorn said. “Everthing is dead.” Thus were his thoughts until he caught sight of Legolas. The elf was concentrating seemingly into the deeper part of the graveyard. “What do you see, Legolas”
“I heard running,” he said. “That way.” He turned to Gandalf. “Should we follow it?”
“What do you mean you ‘kind of’ opened a portal?” Angel demanded.
“It was an accident!” Dawn insisted. “It wasn’t like I meant to. Got cut, and my blood went all glow-y. Stupid vampires. Their teeth are sharp.”
“What were you doing *alone* in the graveyard anyway?”
“I was taking a shortcut from the library,” she spat. “I had my stake with me.”
“Dawn, you can’t take on vampires by yourself yet. You haven’t been training nearly enough for that.”
“And *whose* fault is that?” she inquired in a tone that only a teenage girl could muster. Angel exhaled deeply and needlessly, trying to control his anger. It had little effect on the miffed girl in front of him.
“What did you do when it happened?”
“What any mature adult would have done,” she stated confidently. “I ran like hell. But don’t worry, the world didn’t end or anything. Cause hey, look. We’re still here, right?” Angel narrowed his eyes as Dawn put her whipped puppy dog look in place, her own anger waning and Angel’s death glare was starting to take affect. “Are you like... really mad?”
“No, I’m not mad,” he lied. “But, you could have gotten yourself killed. Not only that, but if your blood is still able to open portals, we could be in trouble.”
“Angel, just because her blood is still powerful, doesn’t mean someone is after her,” Wesley said.
“Yeah, listen to him,” Dawn encouraged.
“And besides, she might not have opened it by herself.”
“No, you’re right, portals always randomly open.”
“I don’t appreciate your sarcasm in the situation,” Wesley sidetracked.
“Wesley? Focus?” Dawn directed
“Oh, what I mean is if Dawn’s blood still contains energy of the Key, it could have very well opened a portal, But, it could have simply drawn a portal someone else was beckoning. Or if someone from another world was coming to this world. The possibilities are endless.”
“Yes, but all arrows point to the first one.”
“Not uh,” Dawn countered.
“Did anything come out?” Angel said, defeated.
“I don’t know. I was too busy fleeing the scene. But I don’t remember anything growling resonantly behind me..”
“I’m so glad you’ve learned to keep your cool.”
“Hey!” she shouted shortly. “I’ve had bad experiences with portals. Okay?” Angel said nothing to that.
“Look, where did it open?”
“Hemrey Cemetery,” she said a little softer, suddenly tired.
“Okay. I’ll go check it out. You go... do... whatever it is you do when you’re not attracting all trouble within a five-mile radius.”
“I resent that,” she said as he walked towards the front door. “Yeah, that’s it, walk away,” she said as he closed the door. About that time, Connor came up from behind her and not-so-discreetly stole the Cheetos she had been holding. She didn’t seem to notice as he began munching.
“What was that all about?” he mumbled through the crumbs.
“Geez. Open a tiny little portal and he acts like I stole his hair gel.”
“That’s not how he acted when you stole his hair gel.”
“Yeah, I guess he was a little angrier then.”
“What’d you open a portal for?”
“Well it’s not like I meant to.”
“You accidentally opened a portal?”
If anything, it opened on me.”
“They open randomly now?” Dawn narrowed her eyes. The apple never rotted far from the tree.
“Yes. As a matter of fact, they do.” Connor smiled at her annoyance.
“Aw, come on Dawnie,” he said, play-punching her shoulder. “Don’t get bent out of shape.” Dawn frown, dusting off her shoulder.
“You got Cheetos all over me,” she stated evenly.
“It’s an ugly shirt anyway.”
“And what’s wrong with this shirt?”
“Nothing. Other than it’s ugly.”
“What’s ugly about it?”
“You look like one of those Easter peeps. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love peeps. Peeps are delicious. I could four boxes of them back to back. I have in fact. But I don’t think that’s the kind of thought you want people to have when they look at you. ‘Hey, I could eat four boxes of you back to back.’ You fight vampires, I mean, and they already have enough incentive to eat you. So why drill the nail into the coffin by looking like a giant pink marshmallow bunny? And besides. It’s ugly.” Dawn’s mouth hung open as he walked into the kitchen. When he was gone, she found enough motivation to close her mouth and frown. She didn’t look like a giant pink marshmallow bunny. He looked like a... giant...
“Are you done thinking of whatever comeback you would have made had he still been in the room?” Wesley asked.
“I don’t look like a giant marshmallow bunny, do I?”
“Then why did he say that?” she pouted.
“He’s bitter about not having the color pink in his childhood.”
“I heard that,” he called from the kitchen.
“Good,” Dawn called back.
“Okay,” Wesley said. “How about this translation, now, hmm?”
“Yeah, okay,” she said, her angry glare still pointed towards the kitchen. She finally decided to look down at the book he had been working on for a while. “What’s this for anyway.”
“From a dimension called Pintol. Lorne says there have been a lot of them showing up at Caritas, and apparently they’re not the friendliest of people. Just to be on the safe side, I think it’s best to know about them.”
“But they haven’t even killed anyone yet.”
“That doesn’t mean they won’t, and it’s better to be safe then sorry.”
“Okay, so, where do you want me to start?” He eyes suddenly went wide. “Wait,” she said.
So far, Angel hadn’t seen any demons in the cemetery. He sensed some active energy, but no demons. Maybe nothing had come out after all. He sighed. Dawn knew better to go patrolling by herself. Something like this was bound to happen. Luckily, it didn’t look like anything had come from the open portal, unless of course, depending on how long it had been opened, they could have walked off somewhere. No sooner did the thought enter his mind did he hear fighting. In an instant, he took off toward the sound of the fighting.
“Why aren’t they dying?” Aragorn yelled as he and all of his company attempted to fight off the creatures of this world. They weren’t quite as gruesome as orcs. If it weren’t for their faces, they would appear human. No matter how many times he stabbed them, they just recoiled and came back. They were a lot faster than orcs as well, and even when he went for their head, they ducked. He watched as Legolas managed to decapitate one of them, and it burst into dust.
“Their heads!” he shouted. Knowing then that it would work, he fought to kick the creature in its stomach, and then behead it while it was doubled over. Despite their success at finding a weakness, there were still too many, and they were and opposing enemy. Aragorn turned around just in time to not be jumped from behind by one of the creatures. One he did not recognized was now struggling with him. He didn’t have time to contemplate as there were still several others of them on the prowl.
The main thing Legolas was concerned about was aiming for the neck of every adversary approaching. He had taken notice of their seemingly ally, but was far too focused on fighting the ones at hand. Their number was dwindling now. He had killed at least five of them. It was just as he beheaded yet another creature that he felt a sharp pain in his neck. He could suddenly not move, and it felt as is the life was being sucked from his body.