"Sometimes that shark, he looks right into you. Right into your eyes. You know the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be livin’. Until he bites ya and those black eyes roll over white. And then, ah then you hear that terrible high pitch screamin’ and the ocean turns red and spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’ they all come in and rip you to pieces."
Y/N couldn’t remember entering the competition.
But, she figured as she looked around the jet (a jet!) she was currently in, it was like getting an unexpectedly good grade.
You don’t quite know how you got it, but you’re certainly not going to argue.
Something about gift horses.
Y/N looked up to see her dressed lie Arwen and smiling warmly in the cabin door. The smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, but Y/N smiled back all the same.
She was the most beautiful woman Y/N had ever seen. The kind that awed her all over again each time she laid eyes on her, made her heart skip a beat each time. Getting used to a beauty like that would be like getting used to a stab wound. Julius Ceasar didn’t cry «Eh, it’s getting old,» when the Senators took turns stabbing him.
Y/N wished she could come up with better analogies.
No, a better way to put it was that she was the kind of beauty who made anything and everything seem like the most wonderful idea in the world.
Such as when she told Y/N to skip Llewellyn’s wedding, and go to New Zealand instead on an exclusive, everything-included Lord of the Rings-themed vacation.
Which she had won.
The beautiful woman had given her an odd look when she tried to ask, and Y/N had been too embarrassed to ask any further. All the same, she would have asked some of the other passengers if they had were here over a contest too, because it really was quite strange.
The woman closed the distance to Y/N, and smiled encouragingly. «Alámene,» she said.
«Á apsene ni,» the woman said quickly, eyes widening. «Ma quetil Eldarin?»
Y/N’s eyes widened.
She was speaking Elvish?
This trip was a lot more serious about Lord of the Rings than Y/N had realized.
She hurriedly wracked her brains for the Elvish she’d picked up in boarding school, when she wanted to impress a crush. (Come to think of it, her Elvish had been terrible then too. He hadn't been impressed at all.)
«Noce, uh… niche, uh-» she trailed off uncertainly, her thick Irish accent making the pronunciation even worse.
«I’ll take that as a no,» the woman sighed, and Y/N felt horribly insufficient, like she had been put before the greatest test of her life and fallen short.
The woman pinched her lips, and handed Y/N a surprisingly thick leather book with «A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ELVISH» written across the cover in calligraphic letters.
It looked handwritten.
The woman leaned in towards Y/N, the wrung gold tiara on her head nearly falling off. «Studui i quenyan a sindarin thand.» she said in a surprisingly stern tone, and there was nothing for Y/N to do but to nod hastily.
«And before I forget,» the woman continued, giving Y/N a look that Y/N could not interpret. «For the purposes of this trip your name is now Alavara Eilrie.»
«Oh,» Y/N replied dazedly.
Funny how the every word out of the woman’s mouth was progressively more insane, each syllable more unhinged than the last, yet she made it all sound perfectly legitimate.
Y/N could be Alavara Eilrie.
«D-do you have a name?» Alavara asked in a thin voice. That woman was really too beautiful, it was intimidating.
There was something else intimidating her too, Alvara thought for a moment. She couldn’t place her finger on it, yet-
Her mind shied away from it, like a dream she was forgetting even as she tried to hold on to it.
The woman smiled, and Alavara felt her heart skip a beat at the sheer radiance of it. «Nin es- na- Shalendra Xilven,» she said.
Alavara beamed, and opened the book.
She was going to impress Shalendra with her Elvish, or so help her Gandalf.
Shalendra got even more extreme when they landed.
Alavara had expected her to have a bus ready for them, or at the very least train tickets.
«You’re kidding me,» one of the guys, a rather short fellow that had started off the trip in a business suit, but after one brief conversation was now barefoot and dressed like a hobbit, said.
(It would be unfair to make it out like only the businessman was dressed like an extra. One by one, Shalendra had made them all dress up, and now they looked decidedly Renfest.)
«Baw!» Shalendra beamed.
One of the donkeys whinnied and stomped its feet, looking decidedly uncomfortable. Something about Shalendra seemed to upset it.
«That means no,» Alavara supplied helpfully to the nonplussed spectators. Several people glared at her, annoyed that she’d beaten them to it.
She wondered just how many handwritten guides to Elvish this woman had.
As she took in the eight horse-drawn carriages that were lined up, one by one, on the road, each of them looking like they were lifted straight from the Shire, Alavara thought she didn’t even want to know. Let Shalendra do her thing, Alavara is just along for the ride.
«You want us to ride up that mountain hill, now, in the dead of night, in these carriages?»
«Look,» another man said, «are you sure this is New Zealand? It looks a bit- well, there’s an olive tree right there.»
«Son’italiano. Hai ragione tu, è certamente-»
«Ná.» Shalendra said, and gave the first man a somewhat expectant look, ignoring the other two.
«Yes!» a man exclaimed.
They all looked at him.
He swallowed, clearly uncomfortable with all the attention. «She meant yes, I mean. Nà. It, uh.» he pointed to his copy of «A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO ELVISH», «Nà means yes.»
Shalendra sighed loudly. It was the loveliest sound Alavara had heard in her life. «This is definitely New Zealand,» she said. «Now get in the carriages, people. You go up here,» she showed one of the men a map, and indicated for him, «through there - and there. I’ll meet you there. Got it?»
He nodded quickly, and she smiled curtly, handing him the map.
«Mára mesta,» she said, and within seconds Alavara had lost sight of her.
She shrugged. From what she’d seen so far, Shalendra seemed the type to have smoke bombs hidden somewhere on her person. That, or she was just that stealthy.
What an impressive woman.
One by one, they hopped into their carriages, and made their way up the hill.
«Are you serious?!»
He was the most beautiful man Alavara had ever seen in her life, as well as the most outraged one.
«Heidi, what the fuck is this?»
«Dinner,» she said blithely.
«No,» he said slowly, «this is- are those donkeys-»
«Let’s just get the humans into the castle, shall we?» she said, and there was something vaguely threatening in her tone.
Alavara blinked at being referred to as the humans.
For a moment, something reared its head, something primal and terrified, something that had to run, get away-
Shalendra, or Heidi, spun around to smile at them all. «Amatulya,» she said, and indicated with a hand towards a manhole in the paved street.
«You’re speaking Elvish?» the man asked, and his was the face of exasperation.
«She’s been doing that the whole way here,» a man dressed like an orc answered tiredly as he walked towards the manhole. Before the eyes of everybody he deftly lowered himself into it, as if he’d done it a thousand times before, and a second later they heard a thud below.
«I’m fine!» he shouted.
He needn’t have bothered: the beautiful woman wanted Alavara to jump, and so she would. She had never met the others before, scarcely exchanged a word with them on the way there, but she knew this applied to them as well.
She was just that wonderful.
«Welcome to-» the man in the middle off the room cut himself off with a frown at the sight of them.
And such a strange room it was.
The people in it were all hopelessly beautiful, beautiful in the way Shalendra was beautiful, yet none quite as lovely as her.
The man in the middle of the room, though… he was different. He looked- not quite dead, but something close to it. The haze in his eyes were like those of a corpse, and his skin was of a color and texture that made it clear even from a distance that whatever it was wasn’t actually skin.
Alavara shuddered, and threw a look over her shoulder.
If she excused herself to the bathroom…
(Even as this impulse to flee filled her, she felt rotten for it. Shalendra clearly cared a lot about this Lord of the Rings project and had poured a lot of effort into Alavara already. Leaving now felt too much like standing up a date.)
Several of the beautiful people in the room groaned as they took in Shalendra and the new arrivals.
Alavara looked down at her blue dress, suddenly feeling very self-conscious.
Nevermind the weird man in the centre of the room, this was getting embarrassing.
If anybody asked about her name, she decided, she would just have to tell them Y/N.
Shalendra- Heidi ignored them all, and walked with a brisk pace up the man, who regaled her with raised eyebrows. In a flash, her hand was in his.
A brief moment after, he laughed. «Oh, Heidi! What a delight, what a delight! I do believe this beats your boyband audition in the nineties.»
Heidi lit up. «That is high praise, master,» she purred, and looked very much like she should like to start bouncing where she stood.
«Yes, yes,» a white-haired man scoffed. Y/N’s eyes widened at the sight of him. She hadn’t noticed him, yet he looked just as inhuman as the one currently speaking with Heidi.
Something about him was infinitely more frightening than the other man.
The urge to flee this room returned to Y/N with full force. She felt her heartbeat increase in frequency.
«Now can we eat?» the white-haired man continued. «Or is Heidi going to convince the humans this is an alien abduction first?»
Heidi’s eyes widened, and something told Y/N that yes, Heidi was absolutely going to do that at some point in the near future.
The first man laughed again. «Heidi’s clever schemes are wasted on you, I take it. Why, I-»
The white-haired man rolled his eyes very pointedly, and in the next moment he was standing right next to Y/N, his teeth buried in the orc man’s neck.
Someone said something, or screamed, but Y/N could only stare at the orc man’s hand grasping feebly at his assailant, lasting only a few seconds before his hand fell limp to his side.
Like a nightmare suddenly come to life, the people around Y/N were all dying, now, being attacked by these beautiful people one by one, most of them not even given the time to scream. It happened quickly, too, so quickly that Y/N never saw the actual attack, only the aftermath as the people around her were looking around in horror, trying to escape, in one second and then in the next there was someone attached to their neck and they had grown limp-
Y/N was going to die.
Any minute now, one of these creatures - these leeches - would attach itself to her neck, and then she would be like the orc man, like all the others, her hands falling passively to her side as her knees crumpled and all that held her up was the demon sucking her blood.
In an instant there was a demon before her, and she knew her bell had tolled.
He was like the other two, death-like and inhuman, though his eyes were somehow even worse.
There was nothing in them.
No life, no emotion, not even the vaguest spark of anything.
Like looking into a doll's eyes.
This thing, this creature, it was dead.
In the final, somehow infinitely long microsecond before she felt her neck be torn open by sharp teeth, she felt an uncharacteristic, indescribable fury.
It was one thing to die. That was too much, quite frankly too much to even begin to take in.
But to die to feed something that was dead anyway, like her life was chow to keep a dying old bastard trudging along for one more day—
She hoped he enjoyed it, this dead creature. That either the taste of her blood or the knowledge that he was killing her made him feel something, that her death would in some infinitesimal way matter.
Even as she thought this, though, the look in his eyes squashed that hope.
She wished she had more time, if only to cry.
How cruel of Heidi, that she had not simply told them, given them time to mourn. Given them time, period.
Those dead eyes flitted down to her neck, and she knew it to be over even before she felt his teeth tear into her neck.
Her hands fell limply down by her side.