14. Chapter Fourteen
It was the same! How could he have forgotten it? Everything – exactly how it looked when he left. Or more correctly when he was dragged away. The meaningless graffiti chalked on the walls, the torches that didn’t quite illuminate enough of the shadows, and the smell. It was a large cell, actually larger than he remembered. But he did remember this place.
His gaze dropped to the floor and for a moment he saw himself. His face pushed into their filth and excrement. Them! He looked up again, and for a wild, frenzied moment he thought that even they were the same. They had been waiting for him, to carry on where they left off! His heart was beating so fast and heavy he could hear it roaring in his ears. He looked around, and he couldn’t shake the impression. There was nothing to distinguish them. The same desperate fear in their eyes, the same rags clothing them, the same hopeless despair. Maglor could taste it on the stale air.
And in the midst of all this, in spite of his panic and terror, there was enough of his mind free to think about Sauron. He had been left here for punishment, and the dark lord’s last words came back to him now. Did he deserve it? Of course he did. He deserved everything he was made to endure at Sauron’s hands, because true forgiveness was still not his. And he deserved this for his disloyalty too, in a way. Why had he encouraged Legolas to keep secrets? It wasn’t as if it could help him. There was no escape. Not from him.
But still, he couldn’t resign himself to the fate Sauron expected. He wondered why, and then he knew. Because his Master was no longer here. Sauron couldn’t see what was happening, didn’t know if his wishes were granted, and Maglor felt ignored. He almost laughed. Was this how far he had come? To be insulted because Sauron would not be an audience to his pain and suffering? He conceded it as the truth, and in doing so he found his resistance. If Sauron was not going to take pleasure from watching this, then why should he play along?
Straightening up, Maglor looked around him with different eyes. Yes, they were afraid and desperate. They might even be cruel and dangerous, but they were human. And they were not the same prisoners as before. A coolness descended on his mind as he assessed the situation. He was alone here, and he was not being watched. To suffer at the hands of his Master might well be inevitable, and deserved. To suffer at the hands of these wretched men was not. They were no better than animals in a place like this, and he had experienced that for himself. He would not allow his fear to make his nightmares real this time.
There was a large up-turned barrel in the centre of the cell, and Maglor strode towards it, only one thought in his mind now. Water! He used the cup that floated on the surface at first, but then he couldn’t get enough and he scooped it up in his hands to drink, to wash away the exhaustion. It was flat and covered with a layer of scum, but it didn’t matter. It was as sweet and cool as any water he had ever tasted. He ignored the other prisoners for now – they could wait.
Only when he had taken his fill did he face them. He looked around. There were about ten men here, give or take a couple. Most of them were young, or had been when they were brought here. Fear tended to make men grow old too quickly. He caught the gaze of one or two, and looked into their eyes, waiting. He smiled, satisfied, when they dropped their gaze first, and moved on to others. Who was the leader around here? Surely they had one.
Then one of them caught his eye. A quiet man, sat apart from the others. He gave off an aura of calm – surely it was him. Maglor started to walk towards him. He had the look of a ranger, so deliberately peaceful. Maglor only realised his mistake when a hand grabbed his arm. He turned and looked at the man who held him.
“Yes?” he barked out harshly, glaring at the man and shaking his hand away indignantly at the same time. He was a heavyset man. He looked much the same as the others to Maglor. Tangled, dirty hair. An unshaven face. Desperate eyes.
“Who are you?” He spoke with an affected drawl. It was too casual, and Maglor knew he was being tested. But he couldn’t rid himself of the idea that they were more like animals than men in here, and he answered before he could stop to think.
“I am Maglor, of the house of Fëanor.” He heard the arrogance in his voice, and he berated himself for it. That would not help him here. “Who are you?”
“‘Maglor of the house of Fëanor,’” the man said laughingly, not bothering to answer Maglor’s question. He looked around at the few prisoners that shadowed him. “Did you hear that, lads?” Then he looked back at Maglor. “Brandir…” he gave with a mocking bow of the head. “Of the house of… Brandir.” He laughed again, and then he lowered his voice threateningly. “You know, whatever ‘house’ you live in, it’s not polite to enter someone else’s place and drink of their water without permission.”
Maglor narrowed his eyes. “I completely agree,” he said coldly. “And I’ll be asking for permission if I ever find myself in your house.”
The man only grinned at him. “Clever little bastard, aren’t you?”
“Well, I’d say that makes us even then,” Maglor replied, all pretence at avoiding conflict gone. He would not be the first to back away from this.
“Even?” The man snorted at him. “Oh, yes… I can see how ‘even’ you think we are. The truth is in your eyes.” He came closer, daring Maglor to move back. The human didn’t understand or was too stupid to realise that Maglor had been dealing with people long before his ancestors were born, and Brandir’s next words weren’t a surprise at all. Maglor almost laughed. “But don’t worry, I think we speak the same language… elf.”
“Then you’ll understand me when I tell you to back off, won’t you?” Maglor challenged. He watched Brandir steadily, until the man began to move away from him. Maglor kept staring.
“I’m watching you,” Brandir stated. “Keep that in mind.”
Maglor laughed and watched until Brandir turned away. It didn’t matter about that one, but he still wanted to know who the quiet man was. He had an air of authority.
“You know who I am,” Maglor stated simply, looking down at him. He must have heard the exchange of words with Brandir. “Who are you?”
The human looked up into his eyes. The paranoia and fear was absent from him, as if he was at peace with his fate. “They call me Beren,” he said with a shrug. And then he smiled, and nodded at Maglor intriguingly.
“You do know me, don’t you?” Maglor sat down beside the man. How was it that a man could know of him. He had been missing for centuries. And from Legolas’ reaction he knew that his name was even disappearing from the minds of his own kin.
“Yes, but don’t worry.” Beren smiled. “I think your memory is beyond them… and him.” Maglor searched the man’s eyes. How easily he could take Brandir’s place! And then it seemed the human was capable of surprising him further, because he seemed to read Maglor’s thoughts. “Why should I?” he asked.
“You are a leader.” It was the truth. But he already knew that, didn’t he?
“Where would I lead them to?” he asked, gesturing around at them. “They don’t need me, they need distraction. Do you know what it is like to face certain death?” He looked at Maglor earnestly. “Can you tell me how to accept it? Can you tell them?”
“No,” Maglor admitted, and the man smiled again.
“Well, then…” He let his words trail off, still looking into Maglor’s eyes. Suddenly he looked genuinely surprised. “You would follow me?”
“If I could. If I was forgotten.” It was an ironic thing to say, and Maglor smirked. He couldn’t help it. But with that it seemed the spell was broken, because the man didn’t understand the joke. Maglor sighed and resigned himself to waiting for a while. The man’s words returned to him… ‘They don’t need me, they need distraction.’
Looking around, Maglor’s gaze fell on a couple of younger men who were arguing between themselves in hissing whispers a few feet away. One of them glanced at Beren. “Tell him…”
“Tell him what?” Maglor asked, when Beren remained steadfastly ignorant.
The two looked at each other uncertainly, and then seemed to come to a decision. They came over to Maglor and one of them began to speak. “I heard it from a man who was here when I arrived. He went away, one night…” For a moment fear darkened his face, and Maglor realised how very young he was. He couldn’t be more than twenty-five. Maglor looked around the cell and corrected himself. How young they all were, especially for this. “But that doesn’t matter,” he carried on hastily, as if he feared losing Maglor’s attention. “He said there were tunnels down here somewhere.”
Distraction. Maglor decided to give it to them. “Yes, there are. What do you know about them?” he asked, showing his interest.
“Not much – do you know something?” Now hope began to burn, and the mood shifted in the cell as more of the prisoners began to listen to what was being discussed. “Tell us,” he urged. Maglor had heard of the same thing the last time he was here… Tunnels. It was a desperate dream. Obviously the idea had caught on, and had been passed down over the years. Maglor was surprised the idea wasn’t more elaborate after all this time. It made him feel a little uncomfortable. It should have the feel of a legend, but it didn’t. He should rectify that.
“The tunnels run underneath Mordor,” he said. “I have heard they extend as far as its borders. They are for the orcs, who built them to avoid the weak sunlight that filters through the clouds of ash and smoke here.” As a lie it was good enough, and it was distraction. It took their thoughts away from the truth. For a moment Maglor envied them, as he had before. They would all escape, just perhaps not the way they wanted to.
“Do you know where the entrance is?” Somebody new asking this time, and Maglor looked up. Immediately the new speaker dropped his gaze. Why hadn’t it been this easy the last time? Maglor searched his memory, trying to remember when the atmosphere had changed, along with his place. He couldn’t recall it.
“No, I’ve never found them – but we are not far away.” He caught himself, realising he sounded as if he was thinking of something else. “I’m sure of it,” he added with certainty.
“Excuse me for breaking up your little escape team.” Brandir. Maglor stifled a sigh and turned to face him. Brandir pointed. “I just want him.”
“What do you want, Brandir?” Maglor asked with undisguised impatience.
“Me? Oh, I just want you to settle a little bet. You see, we have an argument.” He gestured to his cronies. “They think that you are just like us. But I think differently.”
“Well, I’m not like you, if that’s what you mean.” He wondered if Brandir was actually intelligent enough to catch the insult.
“I find myself wondering who you are, what you’re doing here. I wonder who you were begging to let you out. I’m sure you wouldn’t beg orcs like that.” His smile was sickening, and twisted.
“Leave it.” It wasn’t even a warning. It was an order. Maglor advanced on Brandir, leaving the small group that had clustered around him as the human backed further away.
“It was him, wasn’t it?” he taunted. “Because I think you belong to him. You’re his little elf.”
“You don’t know anything about me!” Maglor grabbed hold of Brandir’s clothes and shook him.
“Oh, but I do… now.” The man sniggered. “What do you do for him? But then I don’t really wonder. All I have to do is look at you.” And then he did look Maglor up and down. “Naked, clean, you almost gleam. How does it feel to be his pet? Does he satisfy you? Do you get down on your knees for him? Does he make you want him first, or does he just fuck you?” It was too much, and Maglor didn’t realise he had hit out until he saw the blood on his hand. He looked over at Brandir, now stood some distance away from him, and he was touching his cut lip, still laughing.
“I see…” he said suggestively. Maglor only glared and advanced on him again. He would pay for that. Suddenly he found arms holding him back, and away. He struggled and Brandir only looked at him. “Well? You can go back to your little group now.” He waved his hand dismissively. “I won the bet.”
“I’ll see you die!” Maglor growled lowly. “I’ll watch. That’s a promise.”
“Watch? Watch, you say?” The two of them finally broke their heated gaze, and turned to look at the speaker.
“I’ve seen it.” Now it was the turn of a man who huddled against the wall at the opposite side of the cell. Until now he had been silent. “I’ve been here the longest.” He uttered a high-pitched laugh, and it made the hair stand up on Maglor’s neck. “It comes for you in the night,” he said, looking around conspiratorially. “A giant wolf!” he finished with an awed whisper, and Maglor could almost sense the rest of the prisoners hiding their shivers.
“Who asked you anything?” demanded Brandir scornfully, scowling at the man so that he hissed back. “One piece of advice I’ll give you, elf – don’t listen to him. He’s insane.” There was no pity for the man in Brandir’s expression, just a kind of offended contempt. Someone like Brandir would be offended by madness.
“Am I?” the man said with a snort of laughter. “Ask yourselves where Dior went.” Now his voice dropped again so that even Maglor wanted to shake him and make him be quiet. “It came while you were all asleep. Black and terrible. Sniffing around the place before it took him.” Most of the prisoners gazed at the man with open fear now, as he began to draw deep breaths in through his nose, crawling on the small piece of floor he had claimed for himself. It was an uncannily credible impression of an animal. Or a wolf. Maglor knew, and he was suddenly afraid.
“Well – by my reckoning you are the next,” Brandir said coldly. He looked at one of the men who were currently holding Maglor back. “Better start taking his rations away – he won’t be needing them soon.”
“Stay away from me!” the man shouted, gathering his cup and his bowl close to him as if someone was going to steal them. Brandir laughed harshly at that, then turned his attention back to Maglor.
“I’d put my money on you having been here longer than him – much longer. Nothing will drag you away in the night, will it… pet?” Maglor looked into Brandir’s eyes with pure loathing, smiling a little when Brandir flinched. But it was Maglor who was in trouble. The men still held him, and at a signal they pushed him back against the wall. Brandir walked over to him slowly.
The man stood close to him, so close that in any other circumstances Maglor would have turned away. He kept the eye contact though, until Brandir forcibly turned his head and whispered to him. “Won’t you tell me what he calls you?” Brandir licked over the side of Maglor’s face, and again Maglor struggled. The human only laughed. Now he reached down to caress Maglor’s soft member. He wouldn’t cry out. He wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “Is it ‘pet’, or something else?” Brandir continued insinuatingly. Maglor didn’t even alter the pattern of his breathing.
“Does he tell you you’re beautiful?” he asked sarcastically. Maglor almost cried out at that. No! Centuries upon centuries of training came to the forefront of his mind and took over. Maglor cursed inwardly, feeling himself react helplessly to the word. In his mind he saw Sauron, dark and dangerous, looking down at him triumphantly, gloating, laughing. Beautiful.
Brandir laughed depreciatively when Maglor’s body finally responded to his rough caress. “He does, doesn’t he?” he asked in contemptuous disbelief. Maglor was already lost. He had closed his eyes, seeing himself in another place with someone else.
“Imagine I am him,” Brandir continued. “Touching you like this. And I call you beautiful.” Again Maglor responded, but there was a sarcasm in Brandir’s tone that Sauron never had, not when he said that, and it brought Maglor back. He opened his eyes again.
“You have no idea what you’re saying, man!” he hissed. And the human didn’t know. The word didn’t mean what he thought it did; it wasn’t used that way at all.
“Oh?” Brandir whispered the word over and over, and Maglor moaned despite himself, remembering thousands of nights with Sauron. Taught to desire his suffering and pain, trained to ask for it. Saying thank you for his torment… and meaning it. Maglor had nothing that was not his to take, and use, and play with. Was nothing but his pleasure made flesh. Sauron was perfectly sadistic and cruel, demanding and capricious. There were rare, tender moments that Maglor would go through anything for, and at those times the dark lord gave him the word. Beautiful had changed in Maglor’s mind. When he heard it he remembered his despair, his anguish and his humility before Sauron. But it meant none of those things. It meant thank you.
“Stop!” he cried out at last, the images in his mind too much to deal with. He saw his own fate laid out before him as a path he couldn’t stop himself from walking down. Waiting and wanting to be rescued before he reached the end – the destination. He knew what Sauron wanted when he looked deep inside himself, but it would never come to pass; they would forgive him first. Maglor cherished his hope secretly, astounded that Sauron couldn’t destroy it. Sometimes he wondered if the dark lord even knew it was there.
“Beg me,” Brandir whispered savagely, and Maglor saw the dark lord again. He closed his eyes, losing himself to some unnamed memory at the man’s touch. How many times had he been here? Sometimes it seemed Sauron kept him on the very edge for hours, teasing him. It was a game Maglor never won, even when he was given permission, because it was never given for his sake. It never meant freedom. But he begged for it every time regardless.
“Aulendil!” He cried out his Master’s name into the silence of the cell and he knew it was all over. But it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he didn’t get an answer. That voice. One simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to end it. Instead he was left wanting, as he had been so many times, yearning for Sauron to finish it.
The warmth of the hand on his hot, needy flesh left, and Maglor groaned, unable to lose the daydream, wanting to call out again. Brandir only laughed, and that brought Maglor back to his senses fully. But he didn’t have time to regret what he had done as Brandir slammed his fist viciously into Maglor’s stomach. His head fell down, tears stinging in his eyes as he tried to regain his lost breath. The fist flew up and caught him on the jaw, making his head snap back only to hit the hard stone of the wall behind him with a frightening thud.
Dizzy and panting, Maglor was thrown to the floor. Dimly he realised that this was the memory he had when he first faced the cell. Maybe it had also been a premonition. He began to crawl, using his elbows to pull himself away so that he would be able to recover and get up again to face them, but it was already too late. Why had he lost? But that didn’t matter. Not when he felt Brandir’s body covering his. He was outraged, disgusted and offended. He didn’t want this. Despite his injuries he tried to throw the man off him, but then the other prisoners held him down, and kept him still.
Behind him he felt the man free himself. His hardness pushed against Maglor for a moment, and then the pain came. He promised himself he wouldn’t scream, and he didn’t. It had started. He tried to fight, tried to make it difficult, but it was impossible. Brandir was already inside him, already knew that he was prepared for this. Oiled and ready, as he always was for Sauron. Brandir laughed scornfully. It was a laugh that was a distant relation of real pleasure.
“Oh, you’re perfect, aren’t you? You know what I think?” Maglor refused to answer, and instead threw everything he had into getting away, until he spied the youth. He had been sat alone in the corner all this time, Maglor hadn’t even noticed him. Now he did, and he felt a choking kind of sympathy for him. He was thin and filthy, so young he was little more than a child. Old tears had made tracks down his dirty face, and he suddenly knew whose place he was about to take. The boy looked up and caught his eye, and Maglor looked back. He was just a teenager! Maglor stopped fighting, allowing the human to take what he would from him. He even answered his words, encouraging him to continue.
“No, I don’t.” Brandir leaned down so that Maglor could feel his warm breath on the back of his neck. He lay still now, but so did Brandir. Favouring stillness for the moment so that he could say his poisoned words in a roughened voice that only superficially hid his fear. He was the most frightened here by far, Maglor realised. Far more scared than the boy he had obviously been tormenting before Maglor arrived.
“I think he wants his toy to have a bit of rough,” he said gleefully. “Far be it from me to disappoint. I’m only human, after all.” And with that he began to take Maglor violently, trying to hurt him, and Maglor did cry out now. But then in the middle of it all, he caught sight of Brandir’s hair moving alongside him where he lay on the floor. How he hadn’t noticed it before he had no idea. But now he did, and he began to laugh. Brandir thrust into him so cruelly that tears came to Maglor’s eyes, and he held himself there.
“What are you laughing at?” he demanded, as if Maglor had lost his senses and it offended him in some way. In fact, he spoke with the same contempt he kept for the maddened prisoner. Maglor stopped laughing to speak.
“Your hair…” Brandir’s hair was red and vibrant, even through the dust and filth. Maglor knew what it meant. “You’re next,” he said, knowing he was making a prediction and not really caring anymore. It was over. It wasn’t really funny, but he couldn’t help himself, although he stopped laughing when he heard Brandir’s next words.
“Oh, no. You have it all wrong, elf. I’m first.”
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.