Chapter 1: Anórien
Liv Tyler wearily looked over the script pages scattered untidily upon the coffee table of her hotel room. The upcoming scene of her latest film played out in her head while she munched on hot pizza and slurped cold root beer from a can. A quick glance at the radio clock on the nearby nightstand told her that it was nearly her self-imposed bedtime of 9:00 p.m.
“Why are the directors so adamant about shooting at the exact moment of sunrise?” she thought in disgust. “That’s what CGI technology is for. Wretched bunch of purists!”
She knew the makeup and wardrobe departments would be expecting her no later than 3:30 a.m. Liv checked the clock again for the umpteenth time, making sure it was set for 2:50 a.m.
“Fifteen minutes to wake up,” she thought tiredly, “and twenty for the cab to get me to the makeup trailer.” Somehow, she would consume her breakfast of coffee and scrambled egg sandwiches while the makeup and wardrobe technicians fussed over her.
“Getting too sleepy to read anymore,” she muttered, tossing the script pages back on the table. Beside them lay a schedule for her next fashion shoot, but that was still six days away. She could go over the relevant paperwork on her flight home. Liv finished the last slice of pizza and gulped down the rest of her root beer, belching loudly as she went to the bathroom.
Liv hummed to herself as she put a generous nerdle of toothpaste on her brush and went to work on her teeth. Only when she paused to rinse did she realize that she had been humming Aniron from Lord of the Rings. She studied herself in the mirror and, just for a moment, saw the electrum tressure fastened across her brow and the prosthetic Elven ears.
The Evenstar pendant which constantly hung from her neck on a silver chain was real, however. She had worn it ever since those happy days in New Zealand.
“Gosh! How time flies,” she sighed, turning on the shower. “Was it really five years ago? What a wonderful adventure that was.”
Thoughts of Milo and Roy filled her mind as she again checked the alarm clock and slipped into her pajamas. “Just one more day’s shoot, then it’s off to the airport and home,” she yawned, slipping beneath the blankets. The room felt a bit cool, causing her to draw the covers up to her eyebrows. “Mmmm,” she sighed, settling down within the warm darkness of her comfy nest. Oddly, visions of Rivendell and Minas Tirith flitted across her mind’s eye as she drifted into slumber.
* * *
Cermië 22, Year 33 FO
What a hot month it has been! Thank goodness the whole family will be spending two weeks at Tawarbâr soon. Faramir and Éowyn are both anxious to see us all again and the air there is much cooler. I’m sure that everyone is looking forward to swimming in our favorite mountain stream near the mansion.
Luthillia will be returning to Lothlórien as soon as we get back from Emyn Arnen. What a lovely visit she’s had with us. I’ve never seen two months go by so quickly. Maybe she and I will have a chance to slip off to the woods by ourselves a few times while we’re at Tawarbâr.
Plans have been made to celebrate Gilraen’s birthday on Urimë 5. It’s hard to believe that she’ll be ten years old already. How time flies!
We had a wonderful birthday party for three-year-old Eldarion yesterday. He’s such a loveable little lamb and is already showing signs of growing up as handsome as Estel. Luthillia absolutely adores him.
Lutheriel is all nervous about her meeting with the Weaver’s Guild tomorrow. It will be the first time she attends a guild’s annual conference as its keynote speaker with only minimum coaching on my part. She has to learn how to participate in government business on her own sooner or later. I’m sure that she’ll do fine.
(Excerpt from Arwen’s diary)
* * *
Country morning sounds impinged upon Liv Tyler’s slumber as she slowly awakened. She thought she could hear cows mooing in the distance as well as the rumble of numerous cart wheels on rough pavement. “Roy, you left the TV on again,” she murmured sleepily.
Liv burrowed farther under the blankets, hoping to drift back into the warm, fuzzy womb of sleep. The distant sounds continued. “Nuts!” Liv thought, realizing that she wasn’t in her bed at home. “I must have inadvertently set the clock radio for ‘program’ instead of ‘alarm.’ I guess it's time to get up.”
Liv reached out from under the covers to smack the shut off button atop the clock radio, only to start in surprise as her fingers tangled in cool, wet grass. Liv came instantly awake. This was not her hotel bed! Neither was her head resting upon a freshly-laundered pillowcase. Instead, her cheek lay against some sort of rough, musty towel that smelled like horses. She was also not wearing her pajamas. Her body felt fully clothed and something akin to a sleeping bag was wrapped around her person.
“What’s going on here?” Liv muttered in perplexity as she threw off the covers. Early morning sunshine made her eyes squint as she gazed in astonishment at a sea of knee-high grass and colorful wildflowers. “What’s going on here?” she gasped, struggling to rise to her feet. “I’m having a dream. This can’t be real!”
But it was real. Liv blinked as her eyes adjusted to the sunlight. Rolling grassy meadows stretched toward the dawn, gradually disappearing into the morning mists. The sun had just risen over a distant, barely visible range of mountains.
“Is this someone’s idea of a joke?” Liv asked loudly, looking about the meadow. Cattle and sheep appeared to be grazing in the far distance to the north and south. A powerfully built black horse grazed peacefully about two-hundred feet away. Liv turned her attention southward, gasping in awe at a majestic mountain range looming over her, its peaks still covered with traces of the previous winter’s snow. A faint breeze dissipated the mists somewhat, revealing what appeared to be a slightly elevated highway a hundred yards away. A few horse-drawn carts and pedestrians moved to and fro, explaining the noises which had first disturbed her slumber.
“I’ve missed my scheduled shoot!” Liv cried desperately, taking in the spot where she had apparently spent the night. A thick quilt, encased in an oversized gum blanket lay at her feet. In place of a pillow, a small, thick blanket lay over a dark leather saddle. A pair of high quality riding boots stood beside her bedroll. Oddly, there was no path of trampled grass leading up to her campsite.
“Alright, where are you?” Liv yelled angrily, looking in every direction. Whoever had played this sick joke on her must surely be nearby, getting a good laugh at her expense. “Well?!” she shouted indignantly. Liv wondered if she might have been kidnapped for one of those crazy reality TV shows, yet no one sprang up from the tall grass or nearby bushes with video cameras.
“I wonder how they managed to spirit me out of my hotel room,” Liv mused aloud. “They must have drugged me somehow.” Well, they’d find out it wasn’t so funny after she’d consulted with her attorneys. Reality show or not, kidnapping was a serious crime, not to mention disrupting the filming schedule. This prank could cost the studios tens of thousands of dollars. The thought suddenly crossed Liv’s mind that her film director might be in on the joke.
“Humph!” she pouted. “I suppose the only way I’m going to get to the bottom of this is to play it through.” If this was truly a reality show stunt, the only possible place from which she could be being filmed was the forest on the highway’s opposite side. She fought the urge to make a few vulgar gestures at the tree line.
Liv’s feet began to feel chilly. She suddenly realized that she was standing barefooted in the cold morning dew. Hastily, she sat down on the quilt and reached for the riding boots. A thick woolen sock had been tucked inside of each. As she pulled on the socks and boots, Liv noticed that she was wearing black riding trousers and a dark green jacket over a purple bodice and white blouse, all exquisitely tailored to fit her figure. Even the boots fit her feet perfectly. A pair of dark green leather riding gloves was tucked into her belt.
A small bag beside the saddle caught her eye. Inside were a number of personal objects that any woman would carry in her purse or overnight bag. Liv extracted a gold-plated hairbrush and did her best to smooth her long raven tresses, much ruffled by a night of sleeping outdoors. Her hand froze as she returned the brush to its bag. Liv’s eyes fixed upon a familiar design on the back of the brush. “The Evenstar crest,” she said in amazement. “This has got to be the work of one of those stupid reality programs. I’ll bet that New Line Cinemas and Peter Jackson are at the bottom of it!”
The morning mists were rapidly dissipating as the sun rose higher, revealing more of the picturesque range of green mountains to the south and southwest. “I must be somewhere west of Denver,” she thought, although she wasn’t familiar enough with the topography to hazard a guess as to the names of the mountains before her. It took but a minute to roll the quilt neatly inside the gum blanket and fasten its corner ties. Curiously, it felt as if she had done this many times in the recent past.
As she lifted the bedroll, sunlight glinted from polished metal. A handsome sword belt and scabbard lay upon the grass next to the spot where she had slept. Liv’s hand trembled slightly as she partially drew the curved blade from its sheath. “Hadhafang!” she gasped. “Whoever has placed me in this situation has clearly made a great effort to make me look like Arwen in Middle Earth──very flattering, but not at all funny!” On impulse, she buckled on the sword belt. Like everything else she wore, it seemed to belong on her person.
Liv whistled sharply in the direction of the handsome black stallion. The horse immediately ceased its grazing and pricked up its ears in her direction. “Here, Cedric!” she called gently. Her heart skipped a beat. “How did I know the horse's name?” she thought apprehensively.
Cedric nickered loudly as he trotted obediently through the tall grass to her side. Liv quickly saddled the majestic steed. Although she had taken riding lessons a few years earlier, she seemed far more familiar with how to saddle a horse than what she expected. “Something just doesn’t feel right here. It feels as if I've performed this task many times.”
Liv double-checked the saddle straps and fastened her bedroll behind the seat. “Well, here goes nothing,” she thought, putting her toe into the stirrup. She cautiously mounted, fully expecting the horse to bolt out from under her, but Cedric stood his ground, calmly awaiting his mistress’ next command.
Liv recalled her many riding lessons with Viggo Mortensen as she urged her mount toward the highway, all the while keeping a close watch on the tree line for any flash of reflected light betraying the presence of a hidden camera. Cedric nimbly ascended the short embankment as Liv looked to her left and right. The highway stretched roughly to the east and west.
A particularly tall peak to the southwest peak caught her eye, its snow-covered summit gleaming in the sunlight. Her heart thumped loudly as she took in the breathtaking view. “It looks as magnificent as Amon Dîn,” she thought.
The rumble of wagon wheels on pavement broke into her reverie as a pair of large farms wagons approached from the east. Each was drawn by a team of four powerful draft horses. “Good morning, Lady,” the teamster of the lead wagon called out as he doffed his hat in greeting. Beside him, a weathered-looking woman of indeterminate age grinned around the long-stemmed pipe clamped between her stained teeth. Several country yokels regarded her indifferently from the rear of the wagon as the vehicle trundled past.
An overwhelming sense of apprehension filled Liv’s being as the second vehicle filled with farming implements and lumpy burlap sacks rumbled by. These folks were clearly not actors, but genuine farmers. Their filthy hands were rough and calloused. Their clothing was dusty and worn. Even at a distance of several feet, she had caught a rather unpleasant whiff of their strong body odors.
Liv shook her head. “No! This is not Middle Earth!” she stated firmly. “Either someone is playing an elaborate joke or I’m hallucinating.”
Boyish voices emanated from the woods as Liv tightened her grip on the reins. Presently, four youthful bumpkins carrying primitive fishing poles emerged from the heavy brush. “You, there!” Liv called. “Come over here!”
“Good morning, My Lady,” the eldest of the group said as he trotted across the road. His friends followed uncertainly in his wake. The boys appeared to be teenagers between the ages of fifteen and seventeen. They regarded Liv with awe, as if they seldom saw a woman of her beauty or social status.
“I’ve lost my bearings,” Liv said sweetly to the boys, flashing her best starlet’s smile. “Can you tell me where I am?”
“Yes, Lady,” the youngest replied eagerly. “This is Greywood,” he said, jerking a thumb back in the direction from which he and his mates had come, “and this highway is the Great West Road. The capital lies a short distance that way,” he said, pointing toward the east.
“Where are you boys from?” Liv asked, leaning forward in the saddle.
“We live in a small woodland village near Camp Stonewain,” replied the eldest. “Our fathers are soldiers there. We must be off now, Lady. We’re supposed to bring back some fish for dinner and our favorite stream is nearly an hour’s walk from here.” The boys each bowed awkwardly and made a dash for the sparse thickets along the east side of the highway. Liv watched until they were lost to view among the low hills and thickets of the rolling meadow.
“Eastward it is then,” Liv thought, urging Cedric to a fast trot. Maybe she’d get some answers when she reached the city.
* * *
Aragorn finished the last of his sausages and scrambled eggs and pushed his empty plate away. A strong sense of satisfaction filled his being as he sipped hot herbal tea. It was seldom that the entire family had a chance to sit down to a good breakfast together. Luthillia, sitting at the far end of the table, met his gaze over the rim of her own tea mug and favored him with a knowing wink. Galadriella took dainty bites of her eggs and toast while sharing an occasional remark with her foster aunt.
Arwen ate her breakfast in fastidious little bites while Lutheriel recited selected passages of the speech she was scheduled to deliver that morning to the Weaver’s Guild. Gilraen concentrated on feeding her brother Eldarion between bites of her own food.
Aragorn sighed contentedly and gestured to a pagegirl for more tea. The pleasant meal had passed all too quickly. In ten or fifteen minutes the two eldest daughters would depart; Lutheriel on government business and Galadriella to her classes at the academy. Gilraen would soon be off to spend the morning with her tutor. He and Arwen would have to take care of official business of their own, leaving Luthillia and Arwen’s handmaids to care for Eldarion.
Lutheriel gathered up her portfolio as she and her mother rose to their feet. “Wish me luck, Nana, she said as the two exchanged kisses.
“Don’t worry,” Arwen smiled, “you’ll do fine.”
“Have a good day, Ada,” Lutheriel said as she leaned over the back of her father’s chair and planted a wet kiss on his cheek. “I’ll be back in time for supper.”
“Now I must be off too,” Aragorn said, rising to his feet and giving his wife an affectionate hug. “Have you scheduled our departure date for Tawarbâr yet?”
“Not yet, but I’ll see to it before the day is done.”
“Good,” he said, kissing her lightly on the lips. “I’m really looking forward to getting free of this rat race for a while. How hot it’s been this past month! The cool woods of Emyn Arnen have never looked more inviting and Faramir knows quite a few great spots for catching trout.”
Galadriella was next to kiss her parents and take her leave. “See you at lunch, Auntie,” she said to Luthillia as she snatched up her books and gave the enchantress a quick kiss.
“See you at supper, Luthillia,” Aragorn said, kissing the lady on both cheeks as she rose to her feet. “Don’t let Eldarion get into any mischief.” He picked up a thick notebook from the sideboard, his mind already preoccupied with the business of the day as he strode from the dining room.
“Nana,” my tutor will be here shortly,” Gilraen said as she pushed her empty plate away. “Shall I take Eldarion down to the playroom?”
“Yes. Thank you, Gilraen,” Arwen smiled.
“Arwen, do you have time for one more mug of tea?” Luthillia asked hopefully. The two girlhood friends had all too little time to converse in private now that Arwen had two more children and no lack of official business to attend to.
“Yes, why not?” Arwen replied, gesturing to the pagegirl to refill their mugs.
The serving girl demurely poured the tea and placed a small tray of hot lembas between the ladies, then returned to her place by the sideboard, her hands primly folded before her.
“This morning I had the oddest dream just before waking,” Arwen remarked as she buttered one of the steaming lembas squares. “I dreamt that I was camped out in a meadow somewhere in Anórien. And yet, it was as if I was another person watching myself.”
“Hmmm,” Luthillia murmured thoughtfully as she stirred a spoonful of sugar into her tea. “That doesn’t sound all that unusual. You have, after all, spent many a night there on your trips to Rohan. Maybe you were merely recalling one of them.”
“This wasn’t like that,” Arwen said, pausing with the lembas square halfway to her mouth. “I was camped out all by myself. There was no tent and my usual train of attendants was nowhere in sight.”
“I certainly hope that this isn’t some kind of portent,” Luthillia said between sips of tea. “As I recall, the last time you had such dreams, you rode off to battle Orcs single-handed.”
Arwen chuckled as she swallowed a bite of lembas and took a sip of tea. “That was over two decades ago when I was suffering from melancholy. This dream didn’t cause me any such anxiety. It was merely a curiosity, that’s all.”
* * *
It took Liv but two or three hours to reach Rammas Echor at an easy gallop. Cedric’s energy seemed limitless. The Great West Road appeared much like an ancient Roman highway in its style of paving, drainage channels and milestones. The great wall appeared increasingly massive as she approached its northern gate. “The pavement and wall look genuinely ancient,” she mused. “This is no movie set. Where am I──really?”
Rammas Echor was well over a hundred feet high and its towering gate was wide enough for a four-lane highway. Inbound arrivals had formed two queues before the right half of the entrance. Liv frowned as she took her place at the rear of one of the lines of vehicles and riders. Uniformed customs agents at the gates appeared to be checking identity papers and collecting tolls. Liv fidgeted anxiously. She had neither papers or money.
“Surely, my Evenstar broach is worth something,” Liv thought, reaching inside her collar to pull the pendant into view. “It’s made of sterling silver.” She wasn’t especially loath to part with this piece of jewelry. Several of her friends and relatives had vied to be the first to buy her The Evenstar Pendant of Arwen when it had been issued by The Noble Collection. She probably had a dozen of them at home. Only now did she notice that this one appeared to be slightly different.
A gate attendant dropped a couple of coins into the collection box hanging from his belt and motioned to Liv to come forward as the cart ahead of her moved on. “Good morning, noble lady,” the guard said in greeting. “If you’re here on business you must show your permit or pay the entrance fee.”
“I’m just riding to the capital,” Liv replied sweetly.
The guard suddenly became momentarily tongue-tied as his gazed fixed upon the pendant hanging from Liv’s neck. “A thousand pardons, Majesty,” he said apologetically, raising his arm in a stiff salute. “I did not recognize you. Never before have you passed my station without your train of bodyguards.”
“I’ll be on my way then,” Liv said nonchalantly as she urged Cedric forward. Within seconds, she had was moving along at an easy gallop. “What luck!” she said aloud as the gates fell behind. “The guard must have mistaken me for the real Arwen!”
Cedric’s hooves clopped loudly on the pavement as he carried Liv swiftly and effortlessly across the rolling expanse of the Pelennor. She grinned and giggled girlishly as she passed several slow-moving carts and drays. Here and there, she passed small settlements and military camps. Livestock grazed in green meadows bounded by stone walls. To her right was a picturesque range of mountains set against a cloudless blue sky. The sun’s warm rays felt good on her back. Despite her anxieties, she was actually beginning to have fun.
Liv caught her breath in wonder as the Great West Road neared the crest of a low hill. “It can’t be!” she exclaimed, gazing southward. She quickly guided Cedric over a drainage ditch and up the hill’s grassy slope to its crest. Several soldiers engaged in surveying, paused from their work and eyed her curiously, but Liv paid them no heed.
“I know it can’t be real,” she whimpered, “but it is.” Tears of apprehension and exhilaration welled in her eyes as she took in the fantastic scene. Colorful banners and pennants fluttered from the walls and turrets of the grand city of Minas Tirith. The White Tower of Ecthelion glistened in the noonday sun. The great stone escarpment of Mt. Mindolluin loomed over all. “I’m in Middle Earth──for real!” she gasped.
Liv dismounted, strode a short distance down the hill and sat down in the damp, fragrant grass. “What am I going to do now?” she sniffled. “Either this city is real or I’m going mad! The second option doesn’t seem likely.” Indeed, this was no movie set. A thriving suburb, which she would soon learn to be the New City Quarter, sprawled for more than a mile from the capital’s outer wall. “Why am I here? How will I get home?”
The hill upon which she sat descended in a gentle slope for nearly half a mile toward the city. A road running at right angles to her point of view roughly marked the New City Quarter’s northern boundary. For nearly half an hour, Liv studied the traffic passing along the distant road──wagons and carts of various sizes, horseback riders and pedestrians. Numerous homes and shops of apparently middle-income families had been built in this district, all having large lots with gardens and fruit trees.
“What to do? What to do?” Liv murmured to herself as she pondered her situation. “I’m adrift in a strange world with no friends, no money and no idea how or if I can return home.” And yet, despite Liv’s intense anxiety, there glimmered within her breast the thrill of a possible great adventure.
Liv drew her legs up to her chest and folded her arms across her knees as she studied the Hill of the Guard and its colorful banners fluttering in the breeze. The sun shone warmly on her back. Presently, she had to loosen her collar and remove her riding gloves, suddenly realizing how hot the day had become. Her eyelids began to droop as she stretched out languidly upon the warm grass. The soothing fragrances of wildflowers filled her nostrils.
“Perhaps if I take a nap,” she thought hopefully, “I’ll awaken in my hotel room. Maybe this is merely all some sort of lucid dream.” The sounds of the Pelennor faded from her hearing as she dozed off.
* * * * *
Disclaimers: This story is fan fiction based upon the worlds and characters created by J.R.R. Tolkien and Rod Serling. It is written solely for the entertainment of my readers and I make no profit from it of any kind. This story is fictitious and is not intended to be an actual portrayal of the behavior or lifestyle of the actor mentioned herein.