2. Basic Instinct
Disclaimer: I own the giant, hideous mini-Koi, a possible spy, two bags of Fritos and JRR owns the good stuff!!
**This in mind speech**
''This is visions''
""This is thoughts ""
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It was dark when Kestrel regained her senses. She found herself, not outside beneath the stars as she had expected, but in a bed with a soft mattress and warm blankets, in a building of some kind. Her befuddled mind tried to come to terms with the drastic change in scenery, but the pounding of mining Dwarves, drilling deeper into the recesses of her brain, made it difficult to accomplish. Closing her eyes against a sudden swirling of the solid walls, Kestrel tried to calm the ever increasing panic that threatened to overwhelm her. She was not dead, so that gave her an advantage. Being alive meant a slim hope of help or more importantly, opportunity to plan an escape attempt. Taking a deep stuttering breath, in through her nose and out through her mouth several times, slowed her racing pulse and helped to calm her shattering nerves.
Lying quietly, the girl took stock of her condition. Her body felt as if she had been beaten repeatedly, but then it had felt like that for awhile now. Kestrel was slightly shocked to realize that the pain was much less intense then it had been for the past few weeks. The stinging cuts she had gotten while walking among the tall grasses and sharp branches were no longer plaguing her. Her ribs which had been at first bruised, then finally broken, after a few sliding falls during her long mountain trek were bandaged and breathing deeply no longer hurt. She was grateful for the small relief, but did not hold out much hope that this was a sign of good will and safety. Kindness always came wrapped in demand and Kestrel had learned that lesson well. She had not asked for the kindness shown to her by the healing treatment, so was under no obligation to repay that kindness with cooperation of any sort. For all she knew, these people had only patched her up to prolong any interrogation they meant to put her through. It would not bode well if the prisoner was to die too early and leave questions unanswered. Kestrel would withhold her judgment of her captors until she met them face to face.
Sitting up slowly, to ward off more dizziness, the girl pushed back the warm coverlet and swung her legs off the side of the bed. A thick rug lay along the bed side, from footboard to headboard, in a combination of green, blue and black, while the rest of the floor seemed to be clear of any additional coverings. The walls were a dismal gray color with no windows in sight and a thick wooden door the only escape route. A small fire burned cheerfully, in a hearth that took up nearly half a wall by itself. The fire was the only available light source in the room. The flickering shadows that danced wildly against the gray wall were slightly eerie in the complete silence. Gingerly creeping to the door, Kestrel pulled the handle in vain. She had already figured the door would be locked, but it never hurt to try. Sighing in frustration, the girl walked over to the bed, picked up the rug and laid it in front of the fire.
Settling down quietly in the firelight, she ran over her options silently. ""Well the door is locked. No windows to be seen. No idea to whom this building belongs to. No idea where I am. I wonder if they will feed me first, before torturing me. It would be pleasant to have a hot meal, at least once more. Alright, enough gloom! At least I am warm, clean and my wounds have been tended to. Valar only knows when the last time I had soap was! I tried, but the damn stream could only do so much. The fact I do not smell any longer is a blessing in itself. I wonder how long I have been here already. Hours, days or even weeks could go by in this dark hovel and no one would mark the passing; unless told when the sun rose and set. I must hold on to my temper!! If I seem fragile and weak they may take pity on me. Frightened females are harmless and quiet, so I must remember not to anger them; if I can avoid it. I wish I did not feel so tired. If only these damn dwarves would stop their mining!! Ok, back to the bed, for awhile at least. The more rest I get, the better I will feel! The better I feel, the better I can plot a means of escape. "" Standing once more, Kestrel replaced the rug in its original spot before crawling back under the wonderfully soft, warm and fantastically clean bedding: completely unaware of the eyes that watched her.
Elrond frowned as he listened to the twins' account of the last few days. The female in the prisoner's chamber was a complication they could ill afford. They would need to question her thoroughly about who she was and where she was from. The only things they truly knew about their uninvited guest did not make sense. She was unmistakably female, she was elf kind and judging by the markings on her body, she was a servent of the Dark Lord. How an elf could be in league with such evil, was a mystery that Elrond had long ago given up trying to decipher. She was such a small creature, this female; even in the eyes of men. She was short, only around 5'6" tall, overly gaunt from malnutrition, and, after bathing her twice, had a waterfall of dark honey brown hair. Shaking out of his inner thoughts, Elrond turned his attention back to Elladan's report.
"We had come upon a band of twenty or so Orcs and proceeded to engage them in combat. We had four wounded, but luckily no fatalities this time. Not far from the Orcs location, we spied a shape lying on the ground beneath one of the trees. We circled the figure and was surprised to see an unconscious elleth. We thought she was a captive until we saw the markings on her upper arm. They were definitely not a normal sight on an elf and the few signs we could decipher, seemed evil in their intent. With the ring having left here not long ago and with the increase of dark forces pushing against our borders, Elrohir and I felt it best to bring her back with us. We can only hope to keep the Dark Lord ignorant of the rings where abouts for so long. This female is an unusual enough diversion that she may be of some use in gleaning information about the intentions of her vile lord and his puppet. We have her secured and under heavy guard in the gray room. She will have no opportunity to escape, though in the shape she was in I do not believe she will be much of a problem. She has several broken ribs, a great amount of minor scratches, some larger, deeper cuts that were beginning to become infected, lots of bruises of various sizes and she is undernourished. She was asleep still last I heard, but I left word for Glorfindel, Elrohir or myself to be informed as soon as she awakens. From the condition she was in, I doubt she will be up for hours. Now if you will excuse me Ada, I will take my leave of you so I may bathe and rest." The older twin said in a quietly somber voice.
Nodding his permission for Elladan to get cleaned up and rest, Elrond walked over to the wine table. He poured a generous amount of sweet red wine into a crystal glass that sparkled invitingly in the firelight, before settling comfortably in front of the blazing hearth to think over his oldest son's report. Sipping the wine slowly, the lord of Imladris mulled over the happenings since the ring bearer had departed. Orcs had increased in numbers and the frequency of their attacks had tripled. Goblins had been sighted up near the Wolven's den, but the Wolven sentinels had taken care to exterminate them all. The Wolven leader, Fury and her second in command, Shadow, had stopped by only a week past, with some of her people, to alert the Imladris lord of the Goblin attack and pick up needed supplies for the clan.
Within the next three months, Fury would be heading to Lothlorien with Shadow. Fury had said it was part of an assignment that Gandalf had gifted her with long ago and it was now time to fulfill her oath. The addition of the Wolven to Imladris' security patrols had been a welcome, if hard won, agreement. Fury and Elladan still were hard pressed to stay civil with one another, but he knew it was due mostly to personal issues that they both denied existed. It was obvious what was between the Wolven leader and his oldest son; at least it was to everyone but them. With a sigh, Elrond stood and wandered to the terrace for a breathe of fresh air. He was sure that it would take quite awhile until he had all the information clear in his head. Settling back in place by the fire, the lord of Imladris watched the flickering flames, thought about the Orc and Goblin problems and slid deeply into exhausted, but unexpected, reverie. The healing done on the prisoner and the anxiety of worry over the Fellowship's success had drained Elrond's energy. He never felt the light blanket that Erestor placed over him, nor saw the other elf smile gently as Erestor slipped back out the door as quietly as he had come.
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