The SUV hit Christopher's side first. He died on impact. Sophia passed on in the initial crash as well, having been on the left side that caved in. But Eve, bleeding heavily and flung out the door onto the street, found herself horribly, terribly conscious.

That wasn't to say she was aware of anything more than the pain. Her entire body hurt like it crawled with flames. Her mind, scrambled, did not understand, could not comprehend, what had happened. She just saw stars above her and wished the pain would end when one went flying across her field of vision.

She didn't realize the gravity of that wish. Not until years later, long into her second story, did she finally understand some piece of what had happened.

"Soph.... Chris..."

And so she lay there, bleeding out from a deep gash in her abdomen. Never in her twenty-one years had Eve experienced pain like that. All she could think about, all her through were bent on begging her Creator, her God above, to let her die. And then, miraculously, it began to fade as she did. She found it harder and harder to form words, to cry out quietly for her friends. Her eyelids drooped as the pain eased. The last thing she saw, bright twinkling stars shining far above her.

When she woke next, she lay in a circle of stone chairs. Fourteen thrones, for thrones she realized they were, towered above her. But she felt eternally grateful that the pain was gone and only after several moments of deep, clear breaths did she look around on her back and realize fourteen figures occupied those thrones.

She muttered to herself. "So... the Norse pantheon is real?" Then she realized to her horror that she lacked clothes.

All fourteen pairs of eye rested on her until one, clothed in deep blues and greens, turned to one of blacks and greys. "You say Eru sent her here?"

"Indeed, Ulmo. She appeared from nowhere, lying prone as she does here in the antechamber of my halls. She came from Eru." The one clothed in blacks and greys let his eyes fall on her as she sat up and tried to cover herself. "She is not an Elda, no matter how much she may appear so."

"Perhaps she is of the second, Námo?" A young woman spoke up, her seat far from the center. She had hair of gold and a dress of flowers. "Awoken early by Eru?"

"Nay, Vána, she is not." Námo shook his head. "Her hröa is of the Firstborn. I sense strangeness only in her fëa." Then he paused. "The Secondborn have not awoken yet. She is of them... but, not of them."

"Could Eru have placed a Secondborn's fëa into a Firstborn's hröa?" This time a man of bronze skin and thick, dark hair asked. His green robes moved as he stood to look at her more closely.

Eve, now fully awake and quite fully terrified, scrambled away. Her voice came as a shriek. "Stay away from me!"

"Peace, child. We mean you no harm." The man who had approached her shrunk in size so he stood but her height. "See?"

"Are you gods?" Her eyes were wide in fear and she continued to hide herself as best she could. "Because I was pretty positive there was one God. Don't tell me I went to Catholic school for nothing."

A young woman seated next to Vána frowned and also approached. She too shrunk in size. Her blonde hair and golden dress both radiated warmth. "She speaks strangely, brethren."

"Truly do you speak, Nessa." A silver haired and silver dressed man who sat beside the one called Námo nodded with her.

A woman, tall and queenly with raven hair and a gown of blue, stood from her place and shrunk to join Nessa and the green clothed man. Her crown of white jewels glittered. She smiled softly, speaking quietly and calmly. All froze to allow her the floor. "We are not gods, child. As you say, there is but one."

"Where am I?" The girl before them glanced around, feeling terror creep into her bones. "If I died then where are Sophia and Christopher." She felt horror overtake her. "Did they go to hell? Why would they..." She stood and backed up, forgetting in her fear that she wore no clothes. "Did I go to hell? Oh my God, no. This can't be happening."

She screamed and fell to her knees, knowing no other release than to unleash the terror in her soul. The men and women went silent, apparently unsure of what to do. But there came forward one, a woman with translucent hair and gown of grey.

"Child," she murmured, "it is clear you have endured a great ordeal. Come here. I will not hurt you."

Eve continued to sob, refusing to look at any around her. But the woman before her approached slowly and with care.


But the woman would not hear their protests. Instead she waved her hand and breathed a word foreign to Eve, creating a massive blanket of silver wool from nothing. She placed it over the girl's shoulders and wrapped it around her body.

"It is alright to cry." Nienna pulled her closer and sat with her. "Do you have a name, child?"

Between heaving sobs, struggling to stop her tears for she was an ugly crier, she nodded. "Eve Gallowyn."

"That is a nice name," Nienna assured her gently. "And those you spoke of? Were they companions of yours?"

Eve nodded and looked Nienna in the eyes. She was met with a gaze full of sadness and comfort and pity. "Sophia and Christopher. We were celebrating my birthday when we got hit by a crazy driver and... I remember a lot of blood. And pain. And all I wanted was to die." She fell back into tears.

A woman in silver and white approached slowly. "Shall I grant her sleep?"

Nienna didn't wait for anyone else. "Yes, Estë. It may bring her comfort."

But the others exchanged strange glances as Estë touched her and granted her slumber. Námo frowned and turned to a figure who had not yet spoken. He had been sat beside the queenly woman, he with white hair and tantalizingly blue eyes in contrast to her dark hair and silver eyes. Now he spoke at last.

"It is safe to say none here understand fully what it is Eru has done." He sighed. "Yet we shall not abandon this child of Ilúvatar however... strange... she may be."

The green robed man grew into his original size. "Manwë, who shall watch over her while we determine her purpose here?"

"You know the Firstborn well, Oromë." Manwë turned to him. "Whom would you choose?"

"The Noldor. They are the most open minded of the three kins." Oromë looked at the quieted girl carefully. "Yet among them I am unsure."

"I can think of four who might help."

All turned to the figure who had spoken. His voice, deep, resounded in the ethereal hall. With his dark skin and golden armor, he looked almost out of place.

"Speak, Aulë." Manwë nodded.

"Nerdanel, Kánafinwë, and Nelyafinwë of Fëanáro's house." He paused. "And Findekáno of Nolofinwë's. Nerdanel is a wise woman, and might bring some comfort to the girl alongside her second son."

"What of Nelyafinwë and Findekáno?" Oromë posed the question quickly.

Aulë let a small smile play at his lips. "If we give Findekáno a charge to help her, he will not fail. And Nelyafinwë will be close behind."

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