After another sleepless night, or rather, during it, giving up on the attempt to sleep, the small scout took up writing again. She picked up some new pieces of parchment, and started in without a preamble.
I woke up. At first I was too muzzy-headed to notice anything about that, but then I remembered what I had last seen, and couldn't figure out why I woke up. I hadn't listened to anything anybody ever said about what happens after we die, but I guessed then maybe I should have. I was sure I was dead. I wasn't cold, it was sunny and warm outside, and I was inside a nice cozy room. What I could see of me, I was dressed in clean white clothes – actual clothes, not rags – and in a bed, all to myself, with proper covers and pillows and everything. I didn't feel like moving. Partly, I wasn't sure I could, and partly, I didn't want anybody figuring out their mistake and kicking me out.
After a bit, I noticed that the trees outside were half bare of leaves, and all in fall colours. For a place what seemed so warm, that shouldn't have been the case for when I remembered us crossing the mountains. I started trying to look around more, and discovered I about couldn't move. I was just too tired to manage it. I could barely move my arm along the covers, and when I tried to lift it up, I just couldn't. Not like it was too heavy or anything, but because something in my body just refused. When I thought about where the sword had stuck through me, I reckoned it almost made sense – except for not understanding how that all worked with being dead and in some kind of after-life, which I was still sure was the case.
I don't know iffen I made some kind of noise at trying to figure that out, or if just the sounds of trying to move did the job, but there came a light knocking at the door, and someone walked in. That was my first time seeing an elf up close, and not just across the water. I really wasn't sure what to think, because I was pretty sure elves and humans didn't have anything to do with each other in any afterlife. I didn't make too much of a fool out of myself right then, but only because my throat turned out not to be working either. I just kinda croaked at him. I was trying to say something like 'But, you're an elf! And I'm dead!' As I said, though, I only croaked.
He responded by telling me not to move and reaching to a pitcher I hadn't turned far enough to see yet. After pouring out some water into a glass, he set it on a table beside the bed, then got his arms under me and lifted me up, holding my head until he could get in behind me and support me with his shoulder. Then he had a hand free for the glass again, and he lifted it up to my mouth, and let me drink. After I stopped taking any of it, he lifted it away a bit, and kinda looked down at me with a question on his face. I didn't want to look like a fool, so I didn't ask what I was thinking – 'Why does a dead girl need water?' – and whispered some kinda thank-you to him.
The elf nodded. 'It's good that you whispered, young woman. We had to feed you through a tube, which left your throat bruised and in need of its own recovery.' I tried to argue with him, about how that made no sense with being dead, but of course that didn't work, since I couldn't talk. Yeah, I was being dumb. I know it now, but, well, I didn't then. People just don't live through that kinda stabbing, after all. Anyways, he put his finger on my lips to help keep me from spluttering at him. 'Don't try to talk. It will only hurt your throat worse. We'll have someone in soon to teach you how to sign to us, so that you can make your needs known, and ask any questions you wish.' He left without giving me time to be stupid again. That's likely why he was so sudden about it.
I looked at the door a bit, wishing he'd made more sense to me, and then turned my head to look out the window again. There was a breeze, and watching the leaves and branches and the shadows was kind of soothing. I had been about to doze off, I reckon, when I saw a lady elf walking by, or anyways from the shoulders up. Her hair was a soft brown, and in a short style that looks good even after being blown in the wind. She had a kind looking face, and was friendlier looking than what I was expecting from an elf. She looked a lot like Wren might have, if she'd grown up. Well, and been an elf, of course. Anyways, the lady went out of sight of my window, but then came a knock at the door, and she came in, closing the door behind her while giving me a nice smile.
I smiled back as best I could. How could I not? She reminded me so much of Wren, I was wanting to trust her and be friends with her right from the get go. She brought a chair around what had been hidden from my view by my feet, and sat down beside me where I could see her. She reached out to pat my hand softly as she asked, 'I'm told your name is Adri. Is that right?'
I nodded, as much my weakness allowed, and smiled some more.
'Good. I'm Fingwen, and I'll be working with you to get you able to communicate while your throat heals – assuming that's all right with you?' It was only almost a question, but the tilt of her head and the look in her eyes made that fine by me. I'd have had to be dumber than I was to say no, after all, so I nodded again.
'We'll have to start you off with some awfully practical things, Adri, but we'll get you to the point of being able to ask questions soon, I'm sure. Your friends spoke very highly of you.'
I'm sure my confusion had to show on my face. What friends? I didn't ken what she could possibly mean, let alone who'd say anything good about me.
She smiled again with an amused chuckle. 'I suppose you want to know what they said about you. The most important parts are that you're smart, and a hero.'
My mouth probably dropped open, I'm guessing. I know I shook my head back and forth and tears were starting to come out of my eyes. Fingwen surprised the bejeebers out of me by coming out of the chair and wrapping me in her arms. 'Oh, you poor child. I know you don't feel like a hero, especially not as you are now. From the looks of you, you're also completely unused to any sort of praise.'
She drew her head back and looked at me in a way that I felt I had to answer. I didn't want her to think bad of me, but I had to trust her, so I gave her a nervous nod. She nodded to herself, and looked grimly out the window for a moment. It was a strange contrast, with her still holding me like Wren or Magpie might have done, and I felt awful safe and protected, but her face... I reckoned she wanted to kill someone, but it sure wasn't me. I was awful confused at the time, but now I know that kind of look. I've worn it myself.
She brought her attention back to me, and smiled to me again. She gave me a quick hug, but not too hard. 'We shall just have to remedy that, child. For now, please understand that you are a hero to them, and rightly so. For all that you would all be dead if the twins hadn't found you, your friends' accounts make it quite clear that they, at least, would have been dead before then if it weren't for your actions.'
I blinked at her, shaking my head.
She gave me another quick hug and let me loose, tousling my hair. 'Of course you don't understand, and I'm just giving you more questions, or other reasons to want to talk. That's hardly fair of me, so let's work on making it so you can take care of that. We'll still have to begin with more basic things, but I'm sure you'll pick it up rapidly.'
Adri sighed and shook her head. 'Mebbe I can dream of Imladris 'stead o' ladies wha' don' want me, after this.' She cleaned up her writing implements and set them aside, lying down to try sleeping once more.