Chats and Demonstrations
In the grand tradition of hobbits, I'm giving you all a present for my 20th birthday today. Can you guess what it is? That's right! A new chapter! I hope you like the color.
I don't own anything recognizable.
She found, back at the nicest campsite she'd ever seen, that the others had faired similarly; each being offered what they desired most, to be given to them if they strayed from the company. Willow was most curious about what Merry was offered. Who wouldn't be, when the silly hobbit had gone and said a thing like: “That's funny, almost exactly what I felt myself, only—only, well, I don't think I'll say any more.” Way to pique a girl's interest! But she wouldn't ask.
It was enough that the Lady, a woman they'd never met before, knew their most intimate desires--having a friend nosing about in private thoughts would be too much. She would have liked to share this insight with Boromir, who was going way over the top with curiosity about what Frodo had seen. When she couldn't stand the tsunamis of emo-ocity coming off of the Hobbit, she got up and stood in front of Boromir. From the vantage point of him sitting before her, she looked him straight in the eye and laid her hand gently on his, sending out as many soothing vibes as she could. “Please don't single out Frodo. What we each saw was very private. Unless you want each of us, all of us to reveal what was determined the fondest desire of our hearts, don't pressure just one to do the same. The poor guy has enough pressure. Lay off of him—or he may snap, just as any of us might do; elf, dwarf, human, hobbit, or really big man from Gondor. Whatever is going on here—“ she began, a bit irritably, “it's too big, not just for him, but for anybody. I know, I've been in 'too big' situations a lot over the years, and I don't doubt you have too.”
Boromir was mollified, or perhaps too concerned about sharing his own vision to pursue the information he had been so adamant to obtain just moments before.
Aragorn sat watching the company from a rock not far from camp. He had much to think on, now that he had brought the company thus far, as far as he knew Gandalf had planned out before his untimely demise. But the quest and the fate of Middle Earth were not all that plagued the rightful king of Gondor.
Willow's most recent performance with Boromir was yet more evidence that she was friend and not foe. He did not, however, need any new evidence, as his mind was already quite made up on that point. The elves may not give council freely, but that was not to say that one could not divine their opinions from their actions. If the Lady Galadriel could greet Willow in a manner as close to warm as the very courtly elf got, surely that meant she approved of the little traveler. And if the White Lady could trust this complete stranger in the naith of Lórien, how could he do otherwise?
Galadriel had made up his mind, he would tell the Lady Willow of their quest, of their peril, and of their great hope; as Legolas had been trying to persuade him to do for the past few days. Now the time had come to do as his friend advised. He could not, in good conscience, leave the girl in Lórien without explaining to her exactly what was going on, and why she couldn't stay with the only people she knew in Middle Earth.
The poor girl. He knew this was all harder for her than she was letting on. He almost wished he could take her along with the company, her bright enthusiasm and quiet, comforting temper had kept morale high on the trip to the Golden Wood, despite the fact that they did not yet trust her, and despite their recent loss. Considering all that the company had been through, this act was a miracle, the girl a miracle worker, and her appearance, timed as it was, all but a gift from Elbereth.
But he couldn't bring her along just to cheer the fellowship, no matter how much they needed it. Hobbit or no, she was still a small woman, and like as not she would end up getting herself or another killed. Merry, he knew, would gladly stare down the Balrog itself if he thought it would help save Willow. He couldn't let it come down to that. Galadriel made him believe that Willow was trustworthy, not that she was a warrior. Now, if she assigned the tiny redhead to guard the borders of Lothlórien, it would be another story altogether. Of course, then she'd be occupied with an assignment, so perhaps not so different in result after all.
Willow was mildly curious when Aragorn got up from his silent post to whisper, first to Legolas, and then to Frodo. Curiosity grew to confusion when the three of them asked to speak with her. She followed them several yards under the golden branches before they turned to face her, and sat. She followed suit, looking in each of their faces in turn, waiting for one of them to say something. Aragorn, unsurprisingly, broke the silence.
“I know that you've had a lot of questions. I can't apologize for keeping you in the dark so long, as I believe that I did the right thing. However, now that we have observed you over the past few days, and the Lord and Lady have, to all appearances, determined you to be benevolent, our story is yours to hear.”
Willow hoped desperately that her face didn't hold more interest than was polite. She had the feeling they may clam up if she was too eager, and that was the last thing she wanted. She finally had the opportunity to find out why a seemingly nice guy with decent friends would walk around wearing some great honking evil around his neck.
But it seems that tidbit would have to wait. Aragorn had “backstory face” on.
“Long ago, before the sundering of the free races of Middle Earth...” Yep, this explained the sitting.
But it didn't fully
explain the sitting. When the tale was finally complete—Aragorn telling most of it, Frodo and Legolas filling in the rest—she had that same urge to sit down that she had after learning about vampires for the first time, unnecessary yet powerful. How did she always fall into these things? Every time she made a new friend, they had some world-saving destiny. Well, either that or they developed a powerful urge to kill people.
The newest batch was of the former category, which was nicer, but still wildly dangerous. These fellows were going up against the baddest guy in their entire world, some kind of Master/Ethan/Judge hybrid—it took an army the last time, only one weapon forged could stop him, not a fan of humanity, uses magic to make people unhappy, wants to make the world his hell, that sort of thing. And his only weakness was this little indestructible gold ring that was as powerful as a hellmouth all by itself and
it twisted souls and
made people go crazy. And her eight buddies were going to walk into the badguy's front yard and throw the little bit of evil gold into a volcano. And they just lost their oldest, wisest, and only magic user. These guys could not catch a break. Well at least she had that in common with them. Woot.
Well, he was finished; hopefully their tale would be enough to convey the severity of the situation, and give her the desire to stay in Lórien, out of harm's way.
“I'm coming with you.”
What? “I beg your pardon?”
“You guys are doing the save the world thing, and I respect that. And you're short a magic user, and that just so happens to be my forte. I'm gonna help you stop the big bad.”
How had he gone so wrong? Was he not descriptive enough? Did he gloss over any important, horrifying points? How was she not understanding how dangerous this all was? “Lady Willow, it seems that I did not impress upon you the danger of our situation. As like as not, many of the company will die in this attempt. Some have called this a fool's errand, yet given the gravity of the danger to the world, we must act.”
“No, no I get the whole 'mortal peril' thing, and i know that what you're doing is important. It's so important that I'm volunteering my skills to save a world that isn't mine. Wait, die?” Hesitation, at last? “Are any of you prophesied to die?”
“No, not to my knowledge.”
“Oh, then we're golden. 'Don't give up until and old book foretells your imminent demise' I always say. But even then there's no guarantee. My best friend Buffy can't even sneeze without it being a portent of her death, but she's still alive and kicking ridiculously hard. Your quest isn't hopeless, and with a bad-ass wicca on your side your deal just got hope-ier.” He was lost. He was lost in front of two people who needed to have absolute confidence in him, as their de facto leader. No matter what he said, she was determined to go along with them, convinced that she could aid them. If she was so convinced, maybe, just maybe she was right. She had
said she killed that orc, only... “What, pray tell, is a Wicca?”
To his surprise, Legolas was the one who answered him. “From what I understand, a Wicca is a person who worships 'the Goddess', an entity that sounds much like Elbereth, and possesses powers similar to the Istari. If Willow is indeed such a person, she may be as great an asset to the fellowship as she says she is.”
“Um, thanks for the vote of confidence, but, not so clear on what the Istari are.”
“The Istari are wizards,” Frodo offered, “Gandalf was one.”
“Good-guy wizards? Sounds about right. I try to be a good little wicca—help people, save mankind, that sort of thing. So... will you let me help?”
“Well, that is to say—excuse me, I need to speak to Galadriel.” He got up and left in a hurry. More
serious, life-and-death decision making? This leadership business was quite miserable. He had never desired to be king less that at this moment.
“Poor guy, reluctant leaders always have such a hard time of it. When Giles signed up to be a watcher, Xander and I were not in the brochure, to say nothing of Cordelia... Anyway, here he was thinking he'd just have to deal with one girl, and instead he has to direct this mini-army of slayerettes. He picked it up pretty fast, but still, huge burden.”
Never let it be said that Frodo and Legolas aren't really clever guys, because, bless their hearts, they managed to keep up with her babble, foreign Californian-teenager-speak and all.
“Truly, much responsibility rests on Aragorn's shoulders, But Willow, please understand that in joining the company, you will share in our great burdens. This will be the great act of this age of the world, whether we succeed or fail. Our way is fraught with danger, and if you join us, it is all but certain that you will never return to your home.”
“I sorta figured that much,” Willow sighed, “I mean there's probably like, one or two people in this entire dimension that could send me home. Add that to the fact that a huge war is coming, it's pretty likely that either I or the person who can send me home will die or be otherwise incapacitated. But this whole business is bigger than me. I know you guys get that. And it's my duty as world save-y sidekick girl to do all that I can to make sure Frodo both succeeds and survives. You've got me, Frodo, you've got me for as long as you need me.”
Frodo sent up two quick prayers of thanks to the Valar, first, that Willow was going to help keep the company safe, and second, that Merry was not in earshot of her final pronouncement. The young lad might have taken it out of context and caused himself some serious heartbreak. Frodo had never seen his friend interested in anything as much as he was in their new companion. The ring bearer was fairly certain that the current list of Merry's priorities was: Destroy the ring to stop Sauron, get closer to Willow, and eat—in that order. Anything that knocked food into third place on a Hobbit's list of priorities was bound to be extremely serious.
Fortunately, Willow seemed nearly as enthralled with Merry as he was with her. Frodo could see how their attachment to one another could go wrong, but he was more inclined to see how it could go right: on this dangerous mission, at least one of his friends would be protected by someone with a keen, personal interest in his safety. It didn't hurt that this protector claimed to have abilities akin to those Gandalf possessed, either.
All this, on top of finding himself in the wholesome and relaxing locale of Lothlórien, his life was, for the moment, and for the first time in a long while, looking up. Willow gave him a warm, soothing smile, before venturing off in the direction that Aragorn had gone. His sigh of contentment sounded much like “looking up, indeed” as he gazed lightheartedly on his friends lounging about, the flowers swaying in the soft breeze, and the silver and gold trees of Lórien.
Willow found Aragorn and Galadriel after a few minutes. Aragorn seemed tempted to beg for advice, no matter how unbecoming it was for a future king of Gondor. Galadriel spotted Willow first, and beaconed her into their conversation. “Willow of Sunnydale, would you be so kind as to demonstrate your abilities to Aragorn, here?”
“Um, here? Some of it's a little... messy.”
“Of course, we will adjourn to a clearing.”
She turned, and the other two followed dutifully behind. When they reached a likely spot, the Lady turned and looked expectantly at the little witch.
“Oh—uh, right.” Willow stammered. She raised a hand and whispered “flammare.”
Much to Aragorn's apparent surprise, a small flame appeared above the palm of her hand. With a quick motion, the flame shot forward and claimed a pile of leaves. A muttered “aquare” caused a localized rainstorm just above the little fire. Another word brought wind dancing about them, and another stretched the ground beneath Aragorn's feet into a small hill. Next she levitated a small rock and struck it with lightning. For her final demonstration, she called a bird to her and instructed it to land on Aragorn's shoulder, nipping at his ear.
“I'm like all the planeteers in one!” She exclaimed, pleased with herself, “No, better! 'Cause—with the lightning and the levitation!”
The magic around here was just so white
, it left her feeling clean and content, worth a huge mood upgrade. Another Snoopy-dance worthy development? Aragorn looked like he was willing to allow her to join the Fellowship.
She had a suspicion that the Powers That Be, or perhaps the Valar (if they weren't actually one in the same, that is) were responsible for her sudden unplanned vacation. If that was the case, she was brought here to help, and the guys that needed the most help in this world just so happened to be her unofficial guides to Middle Earth.
It all made sense, and was much more comforting than the thought that she was flung across dimensions for no reason, never to see her friends again just because of some random twist of fate. The thought that this might be her big mission prompted the power-display extravaganza. Normally, when she needed to demonstrate what she could do, she'd just levitate a book or something. But she was bound and determined to make Aragorn accept her offer, and if putting on an extra-impressive display would do the trick, that was what she would do. If she was to help, she needed to be there in the thick of things, and so she needed Aragorn, as the leader, to give her permission to join his team. She just hoped she had more luck being picked for this team than for all those teams back in gym class.
A few days passed, she thought. If was hard to tell around here. The sun rose and set, she slept and ate and talked to whomever wasn't busy. Most people weren't all that busy. Sure, the native elves had to do normal village-in-the-woods type stuff. They cooked, and made clothes and rope, and repaired things, and guarded the borders to keep the orcs out.
And though they said that their hands were “more often on the bowstring than on the harp”, their hands were on the harp an awful lot. They sang often, mostly sad songs mourning Gandalf at first, she was told. She could tell the songs were sad, and her elvish was slowly improving, but that didn't mean she could pick up the lyrics yet. And there were a heck of a lot of lyrics. She supposed the singing was also big with the entertainment value, and with no t.v. or computer around, they had to make their own fun. It was healthier than stealing rocket launchers from the military, but that wasn't really an option around here anyway.
Without the distractions of “modern” life, the elves' singing got practiced all the time—as a result, they were copiously good at it. Actually, they were copiously good at a lot of things. These elves were really just too good. She could see how people might hate them. She didn't herself, but she could definitely see where the envy might become a bit of a problem.
Perfection was a little-beloved trait in others. It bred mistrust and suspicion; people will always look for the catch, wait for the other shoe to drop. If there isn't a catch, if everything really was as good as it seems, resentment can stem from the wasted energy, if nothing else. If she wasn't so intimidated by the perfect elves, she'd let them in on her theory. As it stands, she just told Merry, who laughed, and then looked thoughtful.
Not quite as thoughtful as Frodo, however, who had just looked into Galadriel's bowl of magic water with Sam. He looked all shook up, and not in the fun Elvis-y way. He'd seen something disturbing. She wondered if Galadriel would have her look into the bowl too. Just as the thought occurred to her, the White Lady appeared from the trees, beaconing her forward.
I don't own the planeteers either, they've sworn their allegiance to Captain Planet, and whoever invented him