All OCs, All the Time

Treed

5. A World of Pain

Thalawen's face was pale, and her nails were pressing into the back of his hand.  She gripped him as though she hung suspended from a great height and only Fírhador's grasp kept her from falling.  The Elven scout who spoke to them watched both with wary sympathy.  Fírhador knew that look well.  It was the expression one wears with the victims of war, with the traumatized and the freshly bereaved. 

You cannot know what they will do.  You cannot know how they will react, and whether it may be with violence.

Their home vandalized, their youngest frightened and abused, their other daughter taken….A man might respond with a swung fist, a woman with her nails, her soul keening out of her mouth.  Thalawen had said nothing to this point, but Fírhador could feel her nails on the verge of drawing blood.

"We were on the way to join the others," said Culas.  "The cry went up the wide wood over when your party was attacked.  My fellow and I were on our way to help.  We were passing your house when the little one ran out."  He hesitated.  "There were two of us, and we had to make our decisions quickly.  We did not know their numbers and dared not engage with them directly before knowing more.  Alhael followed the Orcs while I stayed with the little one.  You saw she was not hurt.  Her arm is only badly bruised: if she does not tax it, it shall be as well as ever it was within the week."

Thalawen kept her death-grip on his hand but her words was unfailingly gracious when she spoke.  "I thank you," she said.  "It is good that you were here for my daughter."

"It was luck," said Culas, "and the will of Ilúvatar.  I think He will guard both your daughters." 

Thalawen was silent.  "Yes," said Fírhador in a hard voice he did not recognize as his own.  "He had better."

There was no real response to this.  The ellon gave a quick nod of his head and walked past them.  Fírhador heard the door behind them open and close and in the brief seconds between heard the sounds of voices raised in quick conferring tones: the patrollers Túchir had detailed to escort Fírhador and his injured wife and daughter back to their home.  When the door closed again he could still hear them, only faintly muffled, through the wood.

"You should not have spoken thus," said Thalawen.  Her hand loosened on his as, in a distant manner, she raised it to her face and brushed a tendril of hair behind her ear.  Fírhador started for the stairs.  "Where are you going?"  She did not ask them so much as she gasped out the words.  She had made an attempt to rise.

He was at her side in a heartbeat.  "I go upstairs, to our daughter.  I go to Veisiliel."

She gave a low exhalation, her fingers whitening on the arms of her chair.  "Fírhador, I cannot move easily and will not be able for some time."

"You should not try.  You have no need.  I am here for you, beloved.  I will be your limbs."

She stared ahead of her.  "When Veisiliel saw us she ran to me and clung so tight.  She hurt me, Fírhador.  I could not hold her as she needed to be held."

There was a quaver in her voice that he did not know how to answer.  "I will do everything I can to make you comfortable," he said, and knew his words to be hopelessly inadequate.  She closed her eyes, sucked in a painful breath.  Fírhador raised his arms in an aborted movement.  He wanted to hold his wife, his badly injured wife.  Helpless, he straightened and turned away from her.

"Do not go."

"I am not going anywhere."

"No, when they leave.  When they go looking for her.  Do not go." 

He turned, and her eyes were still closed.  "She is not lost to us, Thalawen," he said, his voice harsh with emotion.  "They took her with them as a surety for their own safety.  They will not harm her."

"But when they are confronted.  I am frightened, Fírhador.  It should be others who do so.  You are too angry.  I fear—"

"What do you fear?  She is my daughter: I would never do anything to put her in danger!"  His Eleluleniel, his little one with the songbird laugh….

"But what of yourself?  It is for you that I—oh Fírhador, I fear for you.  I fear for both of us.  Please stay, I beseech you.  Tell me you will stay."

He knelt before her and took her hand in his.  He chafed it gently between his palms, her fingers slender and shapely as the day when first he had held them and known her for his love.  He felt also the power in those fingers: the strength that had made those fierce marks on the back of his hand.  "My dear one," he said softly.  "Do not make me say one thing and do another."

She did not withdraw her hand, but it became limp.  "Of course.  I knew that you would answer so.  You will do as you see fit."  There was no rebuke in her voice, but there was an expression on her face that pierced his heart.  It was not anger or hurt.  It was a far-off look in her eyes, as though she gazed at him across a distance of many waves. 

He left her after, sitting in that place, still staring ahead of her as he mounted the stairs. 

In the room where three daughters slept he found two.  Veisiliel lay sleeping, her eyes fixed on the ceiling, and Nevhithien sat at her desk staring down at the sheaf of paper before her.  She turned her head to look at him as he entered the room.  "How is Mother?"

"She is distressed," he answered tersely.  He went to his little one and looked down upon her, down at the round eyes looking up at him.  "I marvel she should sleep so, midday."

"You told her to go to bed, Father.  You put her there yourself and told her she should sleep."

"Yes, but I did not expect her to go easily.  This is the time of day when she is most underfoot."  He leaned down to kiss her forehead.  She did not even stir, but her small brow was furrowed when he straightened and the whites of her eyes were showing, as if she had taken alarm in her sleep.  When they had come home Veisiliel had clung to her parents and her sister as if for dear life, but she had not uttered a sound.  "Did she say anything to you, Nevhithien?  Anything at all?"

"No, and it is strange to have her quiet."  The older girl gave a strained laugh, looking down again at the blank surface of an unwritten page.  "Often enough have I wished to hear her silent, but this is not how I wished it."

"I have seen this often in the children of men," said Fírhador slowly, "when we came upon them during the Great War in villages and homesteads that had undergone great suffering.  Sometimes they could not speak for some time after.  Never did I think to see this in an Elf-child, much less one of my own children.  You must be kind to her, Nevhithien."

"I will be kind, Father, but sometimes kindness is not enough.  I have not the easy way with her that Leni—"  She broke off, then said in a sudden sob, "Oh Papa!"

He crossed to her immediately and his arms were around her.  "There now," he said to her softly, "It is all right.  It will all be all right."  He said it easily, rocking her lightly in his arms.  Why had he been unable to comfort his wife in this fashion?  Why hadn't he been able to find the words?  Nevhithien was crying against his shoulder and he whispered to her, "Shh.  Shhhhhhh.  They have only to form a party to rescue her and to bring her back.  All will be well, you will see.  All will be well: I will make it so.  I will go with them and I will bring her back."

-.-.-.-

The sun was directly overhead, piercing the trees with javelin intensity.  They'd been at it some two hours now, reckoning off a compass that was mostly gut.  The Elf girl was stumbling between them, eyes rolling a little in her face, breath coming in gasps now, in a piteous condition that both ignored as they conferred in rapid Orkish over her head.

"He's still on us." 

"Any others?" 

"Just the one.  There'll be more, though."

"We could lose him."

"We won't lose him.  And where one is, more will follow.  They're like bees.  Draw one and the whole hive follows."

Kurbag hadn't caught a sniff of the scout Nazluk said was following them, but he did not question the other Orc's assessment for a second.  "So what do we do?" he asked, unnerved by the analogy.

"He won't shoot."  Nazluk said it with grim satisfaction.  "Not so long as we stick sharp to this one.  They don't kill their young."

"Just how do you know so much about Elves?"  Nazluk didn't respond.  He had been cleaving tightly to the girl, pressed so close a knife's blade might not have separated them.  Now he released her suddenly.  Kurbag looked bewildered.  "What are you doing?  You said we should stick sharp!"

"I don't like the situation."  Nazluk peeled out and away in a broad arc.  In his right hand he already held one knife—now he pulled another from the place at his left hip, stalking two-bladed back the way they'd come. 

"What am I supposed to do, then?" Kurbag hissed after him, but Nazluk had already disappeared into the trees like a slinking shadow.  "Fuck!"  The Elf stumbled again beside him.  He looked down at her and his fingers tightened.  "Pick up your feet," he said roughly.  "We keep moving."

He said it in Common, but Eleluleniel barely registered the words.  She followed in the direction in which he pulled her, her body alternately numb and aching.  She wanted above all to stop, to catch her breath.  She got what she wanted when the big Orc suddenly pushed her up against a tree and held her pinned there with one hand, looking back the way they'd come.  Only then did she realize that his fellow had left them, and she wondered to what purpose he had gone.

A rapid chatter arose in the tree they stood against.  A squirrel was scolding them from the branches overhead.  The Orc looked up in a disconcerted way, his fingers flexing on her body. 

She gathered her courage.  "If you would let me go," she said, "you could go faster on your own."  He looked down sharply, his predatory eyes trained on her.  She flinched but spoke on, "It would be best for you if you let me go.  Someone will come looking for me."  Her father would come for her.  He had gone with Mother and with Nevhithien that morning, but he would be back by now: would have seen their home, know what had transpired, and he would come for her.  She knew this.

The Orc was looking at her and she thought he might be weighing her words.  "It would be best," she said again softly.

"Quiet," he said, and he turned his face away from her and returned to looking back the way they had come.  Overhead the squirrel still chattered, but its scolding seemed half-hearted.

Eleluleniel deflated a little but told herself nonetheless, My father will come.  He will come, or he will send someone.  Someone will come for me.

-.-.-.-

Alhael slipped through the trees with the silent ease of which only his kind were capable.  His full weight never touched the ground and he barely disturbed the leaf litter as he passed over it.  He had only seen the two Orcs he was tracking early, briefly, but he knew he was close on their trail.  There was no danger of his losing them.  The very trees whispered in their passing, murmuring of the young girl they had stolen.

Culas had stayed behind, comforting the little one and seeing to her injuries.  Alhael had elected to follow.  The temptation to close the distance between himself and the Orcs he followed was strong.  To notch an arrow and take aim, to let the arrow fly.  Mere fantasy of course.  He knew better than to take chances, not with the young prisoner they held at their dubious mercy.  He had seen her for the briefest second, little more then a head of pale hair that bobbed doll-like between them.  He would not risk her safety.  Trailing from a steady distance was where best he could serve her, keeping steady company with their movements.  From time to time he made sendings: brief mind-flashes to Culas and to the other Elves with him, letting them know his location.  It was not his task to engage the Orcs but to keep a cool head and to follow them, while his fellow Elves followed him in turn.

Nonetheless Alhael's blood thrilled to the chase.  He had been young during the War of the Ring, guarding this green wood where the evil never quite came.  There was gladness when the Dark was defeated, but there was also shame in his heart and in the hearts of young Elves like him who had not opted to depart over the sea.  The fight for Middle-earth had come and gone, the great battle of his age, and he had had no part in it, hidden in his safe green wood. 

Now evil had come there and the blood, far from chilled, ran hotly, quickly in his veins.  He was more than the link in a chain.  When the others caught up he could make the transition from scout to warrior.  Then he would have his opportunity.  The Orcs would fall beneath Elven arrows, their captive would be rescued, and he would pay some part of an honor debt of fifteen years' standing.  He could afford to follow and be patient.  He was young and he was eager, and they did not know he was behind them.

A broken twig, the displacement of leaf and mold: he knew his woodcraft well, and when the paths of the two Orcs diverged he dropped into an immediate crouch.  Faint these signs were, and fleeting: were it not for his following so closely, even he might not have found them.  The space of minutes would see them lost in the anonymous shifting detritus of the forest floor.  Alhael straightened, still looking down at the traces of their passing.  One, the larger of the two Orcs, had gone on ahead, drawing his captive after.  The other had cut out in a broad curve to the right.  Why would—?

The faintest sound behind him.  He whirled, narrowly evaded the blade that cut a dark arc where he had stood a bare instant before. 

Elbereth!  How did it get so close? screamed his brain, but he had no time to ponder the matter.  The Orc followed up with a vicious assault: a rapid alternation of the knives it carried in either hand.  Taken off-guard as he was, he brought up his longbow instinctively, using it to block the blades.  His attacker snarled and pressed home its attack, driving Alhael backwards step by step.  His bow quivered beneath a volley of blows as the sharp knives bit deep grooves in the oaken shaft.

Suddenly his back came in contact with something hard, and he realized that the Orc had neatly backed him up against the trunk of a tree.  Its lip curled up over its teeth as it drew the left blade back.

Alhael ducked and dived to the side, skidding through dead leaf litter, smelling mold and rich dark loam.  He heard the heavy thud, followed by harsh swearing as he leapt again to his feet.  He turned to see the Orc trying to yank the knife free of the rough tree trunk.  Alhael did not stop to think: he swung his bow, hitting the brute in its side.  The Orc jerked aright, snarling and twisting to face him with the knife it was still holding.  Emboldened, he took a step toward it, swinging the bow again, only for the Orc to catch the oaken shaft in its clawed hand.  Yanking, it jerked Alhael off balance.  He stumbled forward, felt the Orc catch his arm and twist it violently behind him…

There came a powerful blow to the small of his back, like the sudden slam of a fist.  His knees buckled inexplicably beneath him.  He thought it was his knees.  He could not tell: all sensation had departed his lower body.  The ground came toward him fast, and before he could throw out his hands to catch himself he was face down in the dirt.  His bow was caught beneath him, digging into his chest and belly.  He tried to push himself upright but something held him down.  Lifting his face he gasped raggedly, tried to turn his head.

"Don't…move," breathed a voice over him, and he realized he was pinned by a foot planted between his shoulder blades.

Nazluk placed his hand against his side and hissed.  He could feel the welt the Elven bow had left, feel its raised outline even through the material of his clothing, and knew that it would be there for some time to come.  He was lucky that he had not cracked a rib.  Bloody arrogant Golug bastards!  Fucking Elves that had to fight, that would or could not just lie down and die! 

He glared down at the Elf and as he did his anger cooled to an evil calm.  He had thought to kill the Elf quickly, favoring expediency over sport, but something else was clearly in order.  Nazluk had felt metal grate on bone, seen the sudden collapse of the Elf's lower body as the blade severed his spine, like cutting the strings on a puppet.  Now he knelt slowly beside the fallen scout and touched the knife that jutted from his back, playing with the pommel.  The body beneath him squirmed and Nazluk's narrow shoulders shook with silent laughter.  Too, too easy.  Wrapping his long fingers around the hilt, he jerked the weapon free and stood, waiting to see what the Elf would do.

Fire shot up the scout's spine as severed nerves screamed agony.  His face distorted in a rictus of pain, but he did not cry out.  Instead he began to crawl, hauling his body along the ground, dragging his useless legs behind him.

"Just like a worm," purred the voice.  An iron-shod boot dug into his side and he was kicked over onto his back to stare up at the Orc.  It dropped into a crouch over him, smiling maliciously.  "Now pay attention, worm," it said, holding a knife that dripped with his own blood.  He was unable to look away as the Orc drove the slick blade into his left thigh.  A thin spurt of crimson, impossibly high, and the Orc watched him even as it twisted the knife in his flesh.  "Feel that?" it asked.

In an involuntary movement he shook his head.  Below the waist he felt nothing.  He watched wide-eyed as the Orc pulled the knife free again, leaned over him and brought the glistening tip to his face.

"Don't worry," Nazluk said softly.  "You'll feel this."

-.-.-.-

He came back to them bloody and grinning.  The knife he held was bright and clean, but his right hand he held fisted, and it was dripping red.  When he opened his hand she saw what was in it and she started to scream and could not stop, not even when the larger Orc's hand was over her mouth and she was screaming into his calloused palm.  They finally had to use a gag to quiet her.

Then they were moving again.  The pace the two Orcs set was brutal, testing the limits of Eleluleniel's endurance and rapidly exceeding them.  She would have fallen countless times had it not been for the larger Orc's hand on her shoulder, jerking her after him.  He was leaving bruises on her, dark marks such as those he had left on her arms and neck.  She tried to be brave, to endure, but it availed her nothing.  In the end the tears ran down her cheeks, moistening the filthy rag that had been drawn between her lips and teeth.  She wept in helpless silence, unheeded by her captors.

It was dark when they stopped finally.  They had come on a hollow with tall trees and rough, stony ground.  The Elf-killer put up his hand in a halting gesture and the tall one stopped, hand tightening on Eleluleniel's shoulder, watching as his companion scanned the woods around them with a sneer.  After a pause he gave a jerk of his head, and this was the sign for them to make their rest.  The hard hand on her shoulder pushed down unmistakably, forcing her to her knees and then onto one hip.  Fresh tears flooded her eyes as a sharp stone pressed against her flesh and she thought she felt it cutting her through the material of her dress.  If her hands had been free she would have pushed herself into a less painful position, but her wrists were bound behind her and she had no means of moving herself.  She was so distracted by pain that she did not notice when the hand left her shoulder.

They spoke over her head, harsh unlovely words that she could not understand and that hurt her ears.  She cringed low and squeezed her eyes shut.  Her legs had forgotten their grace—now her back forgot any semblance of posture as she hunkered forward, body bent near double.  She was bound and so had no means of defending herself; forced to sit, she could not run.  She wished that she might sink into the earth and so escape them in that fashion, but the earth did not swallow her and her bonds remained firm.  And so she sat at the mercy of the two Orcs, who seemed to have forgotten her, and prayed that they might only continue to forget.  For a time it seemed they did. 

They were some way past the border, well beyond Elven territory.  Nevertheless Nazluk was adamant they not light a fire and Kurbag was in full agreement.  Their camp that night was a simple affair: they only unrolled the sleeping pallets that had gone unrolled the previous night.  Then they opened the packs in which they had stored their spoils of that noon.  The gold and silver made Nazluk's eyes widen and then narrow again.  He cursed the filthy Elves who kept such wealth, building hoards as the dragons of old. 

Kurbag himself did not curse, but his amazement only grew as he pored over his take.  He turned his head to look upon the Elf girl and wondered if her kind typically owned so many fine things or if the household they had robbed was one of unusual wealth.  Perhaps she felt his eyes upon her: she opened her own and stared back at him fearfully, and new thoughts entered his mind as her blue eyes did something to his belly. 

They ate well and spoke of leaving early on the morrow, and of how best they might go about the business of finding and rejoining their band.  Nazluk was glad of the salted pork, and also of the beef, both of which put him in a good humor.  His eyes flashed in Kurbag's direction with strange heat, a lazy comfortable warmth such as Kurbag had known a good fire and a few skins of beer to lend Nazluk's eyes in the past, though there was no fire and Nazluk was drinking nothing this night, preferring to keep his senses sharp for the watch.

Kurbag attributed Nazluk's uncharacteristically pleasant mood to their exploits of that day.  He was feeling pretty good himself and, unlike Nazluk, had put a few away, which made him feel even better.  He found himself eying the Elf girl again and lazily reached over, undoing the gag Nazluk had put on her earlier. 

Immediately she gasped, eyes widening as she sucked air through her mouth and into her lungs. 

"Scream," said Nazluk, "and no one will hear you, little Elf.  There are none of your folk in this place." 

He laughed cruelly and she flinched.  She did not scream and Kurbag thought, looking at her, that she would not have been able had she tried.  Her small tongue rasped in her mouth as she licked parched lips reflexively.  Her mouth was clearly dry and sore from the gag.  Not thinking a great deal about it, he took up an untouched skin of water and opened it, kneeling beside her and holding it to her lips.  At first she took alarm and began to struggle, but he held a hand at the back of her head to keep her steady and, as the cool liquid passed her lips and she recognized the taste of water, she calmed and drank.

Nazluk watched in amusement.  "Waste of water," he said in Orkish.  "She'll not last the night."

Perhaps it was waste.  Kurbag watched the muscles of her throat move in unabashed fascination.  How fine she was, he thought, how small and fine.  She might have been an inch or so shorter than Nazluk and, like Nazluk, was made slenderly, but where the Orc was wiry and hard her limbs were smooth, her flesh soft.  Soft and easily damaged.  Her body seemed to show every little mark. 

When she finished drinking he drew the skin shut again and laid it to one side.  Then he leaned in toward her.  He could feel her stiffen as, reaching behind her, he undid the cord that bound her wrists.

He had given her water and now he was untying her.  Eleluleniel did not know why he had not killed her.  She uttered a small sound as the strain on her shoulders was alleviated and her hands freed.  She dared make no sudden movement but drew them forward slowly and held them to her chest, closed-fisted, wrists crossed in a gesture of warding.  "Thank you," she whispered.

The Elf-killer snorted.  The tall Orc only looked at her, the cord still in his hands.  He pulled it through his fingers over and over.  His eyes made her afraid.  Orcs tormented their prisoners, she knew, and she knew that they held a special loathing for Elves.  Old tales were in her head: the sacking of Nargothrond, Finduilas pinned to a tree.  Old tales, and stories nearer her own time, memories her father related of the War.  Orcs tormented their prisoners and killed those they tormented, and she had heard darker insinuations as well of bodies desecrated and devoured.  They had no qualms about consuming the flesh of Elves and Men and even their own kind.  Though she had just seen these same two eat their fill, still she feared this fate.

"Let me go," she said, voice quavering a little.  She willed it steady.  "I will give you no trouble.  I will only go back the way we came." 

"'Let me go!  Let me go!'" the other Orc repeated mockingly, mimicking her in a high falsetto.

A tremor passed through her body but she only continued to look at the one who had captured her.  "Please," she said.  "Let me go."

He watched her with a face that gave away little, but there was a strange gleam in his eyes.  Abruptly he reached forward and caught her hands where they pressed against her chest.  She cried out and tried to pull away from him but he held them easily, winding the cord around and around her wrists so that this time they were bound before her.  Then, standing, he took her by her bound wrists and pulled her to her feet.  He drew her to the thin pallet he had unrolled earlier and pushed her down onto it. 

The bedroll was coarse and unyielding.  She could feel the hard ground beneath.  "Please," she said, "I will give you no trouble."  He ignored her.  He was taking off his boots.  "What can I say to make you let me go?   Please.  Only tell me what to say…."  She was still forcing her voice to stay calm, but it cracked and broke at the end.

She was young and did not at first understand, not even when he began to unfasten his breeches.

-.-.-.-

Nazluk drew a long silver chain from amid other treasures, studying it coolly.  Silver, fine silver.  He would not have been surprised had someone told him it was true-silver, what the Elves call mithril, though he supposed these days that even Elves were not likely to have that precious metal in their possession.

"No!  Please!  Do not!  Do not do this to me!"

From the chain hung a stone of a kind he had never seen before.  It was black and brilliant, and in its depths a bright star flashed.  He turned it this way and that and it moved with the turning: a star with four twinkling points.  He palmed it with a smirk, thinking what a pretty trinket like that might fetch.

"It will kill me!  No!  PLEASE!"  There came a high thin scream behind him, followed by an anguished sob, and when next the Elf spoke it was not in the Common Tongue.  "Baw!  Nin naegra—nuitho, nuitho, nin naegrach!  Nin dagich!  Nuitho!  Baw!"

Nazluk's lip curled at the sound of the Elf filth she was spewing…but there now, let her shriek and wail as she pleased.  There was no one to hear her, and she would be dead soon enough.  He had spoken truth when he said she would not make it till morning.  Everyone knew Elves died when they were forced: it was yet another of their weaknesses.

"A Elbereth, le nallon!  Nin lasto, Fanuilos!  Im harnnanen, firithon…firon—anno dulu enni…Baw!  Baw!"

Nazluk did not trouble himself about the Elf girl's rape.  He wasted no love on her kind.  As a young Orc in the wake of the Ring War his den had been cleansed by a party of Golug who had entered caves where he and his dwelled and had slaughtered every living creature that they found.  There had been a lot of that sort of thing in those days.  Only he and a bare handful of his fellows survived.  He remembered how the cursed Golug swords blazed with unbearable blue flame, remembered cold patrician faces and eyes like ice.  The impression made on him had never left.

There was some more of that salted pork.  He took a piece and sat and chewed it long and slow, savoring.  Beneath the desperate cries of the Elf girl he could hear the fierce sounds Kurbag was making as he rutted her.  Nazluk did not turn to look but entertained the image in his mind, curious, lingering.  In his imagining the Elf's part was negligible.  He had no lust for Elves any more than he had love, but he could hear Kurbag groaning.  Could smell him.  Nazluk's hand slid back and forth along his own thigh absently before slipping down to cup himself through the fabric of his trousers.  He scowled to find himself soft.

The Elf girl was moaning piteously.  Her voice was growing weaker.  "Baw, naegra.  Naegra.  Naneth, nin naegra.  Firon—nin danc, Naneth.  Adar, edraith enni!  Adar, mas ce?  Ada…ADA!"

It must have been then that Kurbag spent himself.  Nazluk heard the quickening grunts, the sudden snarl, the Elf girl's final scream as the half-Uruk cried out his completion in a rough sated voice.  Then there was quiet save only for Kurbag's ragged breathing and the Elf girl's weeping.  Long she wept, and low, and her soft sobs were like the murmur of doves roosting at even. 

"Avaníron hen," she whimpered.  "Avaníron firo.  Avaníron firo."

She kept repeating those words to herself for some time after Kurbag's ragged breathing calmed and slowed to the steady susurration of sleep.  Nazluk listened in malevolent boredom and wondered what they meant.

-.-.-.-

Years seemed to pass as she lay there in the dark.  She had no sense of the passage of time.  Beyond the circumference of the little clearing small night animals went about their business and a faint breeze stirred the leaves of the forest canopy, but her world had receded to the space she occupied, and to the pain.  She was inhabited by pain.  Beside her she could hear his heavy breathing, and she could hear nothing else.  His leg was pressed against her leg, and it burned with unnatural heat.

I shall die here.

She would die here in the dark.  She had thought she would die as he did it to her, but she hadn't.  She had not died after: not when he pulled out of her; not when he lay touching her, feeling her; not when he finally fell asleep.  Now he lay sleeping, and his leg was pressed against her leg, and if she moved he would waken.  She could not move anyhow.  She was dying. 

…I do not want to die.

She was afraid to die, and that fear was greater than the pain.  The night pressed down on her with the weight and substance of a body: longer than an Age, older than the world.

A sudden harsh sound.  His companion was coughing somewhere in the dark. 

Oh Mother, Mother, I am afraid…

She was afraid, as she had not been since she was a little child, of the dark.


This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.

In Challenges

Story Information

Author: The Lauderdale

Status: Reviewed

Completion: Complete

Rating: Adult

Last Updated: 07/23/11

Original Post: 06/29/06

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