25. Olórë Hwárin Mallë - The Path of Twisted Dreams
Chapter Written by Elfhild
Elffled had awakened before the first light of dawn touched the sleeping land. Wakefulness had found her panting, sighing, and writhing upon the ground, caught in the throes of a blisteringly hot dream of rampant passion. She recalled a moonlit stroll along a meandering path that twisted through a courtyard garden of night-blooming flowers which never revealed their delicate beauty to the cruel rays of the sun. The air was filled with an unknown fragrance that seemed to compel her to breathe deeply of their intoxicating scent. Far above rose the towers of a gleaming, alabaster city, dark banners fluttering in the soft breeze. A tall, handsome man strolled beside her, his powerful arm wrapped around her waist as his playful tongue tickled her ear. Oh, how she had squealed in delight! Then he had turned her to face him and bent his head down to hers. The moonlight bathing them in a magical silver glow, they had shared a kiss, tender at first and then turning more passionate...
Her eyelids fluttering open, Elffled imagined herself still captured in his strong, muscular arms as they lay upon the soft grass amidst the sweet-smelling flowers. Giggling softly, she hugged herself, her forearms pressing against her swollen breasts. She moaned when she recalled how he had caressed her thighs as he slowly drew her skirt up her legs. Her whole being felt alive as she remembered the unspeakably voluptuous sensations which he had coaxed from her body. Giving herself to him totally, she had responded to his every masterful touch.
As she recalled each memory, Elffled felt her skin tingling and her stomach fluttering in sinfully pleasant little tremors. From the top of her head to the tips of her toes, she shivered in rapturous delight. The point of her pink tongue slid out and slowly licked her lips from one corner to the other. "How wicked it is of me to relish the memory of this sordid dream!" she chastised herself halfheartedly. Coloring with embarrassment, she remembered how his utterly shameless fingers had explored the intimacies of her body, seeking out and probing every sensitive recess... Sadly, though, the dream had ended before she had discovered what might have happened next.
Refusing to face the thought of yet another dreary day of misery ahead of her, Elffled had lain there, luxuriating in her wanton fancies. Her blush deepened as she realized that her body was still responding to the delicious memories which filled her mind with torrid fantasies. Her hand arched up to her throat and caressed the place where her lover had lathed her skin with his tongue and ravished it with his lusty kisses. A frown crossed her passion-infused features, for she found that her neck stung and ached. Beneath her fingers, she felt the puckered ridge of a long cut above her iron slave collar. "Strange," she thought. "I do not remember cutting myself." Oh, well, it really did not matter how she had been injured. Sighing, she closed her eyes, hoping that she would soon find herself back in the comforting arms of sleep, her mind lost to the blissful dream.
But sleep would not return. Sitting up, she glanced over to where her sister had been sleeping, but Elfhild was not there! Terrified at finding herself alone, she called her sister's name. When no one replied, Elffled sprang to her feet and looked all about. Why did Elfhild not answer? Where could she have gone? Was she hurt? What if she had been recaptured? That made no sense, for the slavers would have taken them both. Elffled screamed her name, but once again her cry was met with silence. What should she do? Wait in the predawn darkness until her sister returned? Oh, surely this could not be happening! "Elfhild!" she screamed hysterically. Still there was silence. She could not bear to stay here alone!
Frightened, she ran among the trees and called out her sister's name, hoping that she would soon answer. All of her limbs were trembling, and she felt sick to her stomach with worry. Though it was still dark, the skies were slowly changing from starry sable to cobalt blue. Her fearful eyes darted around wildly, first here and then there, as she surveyed the woods in the dim morning twilight. Minutes seemed like hours, and soon Elffled felt as though she had spent an eternity wandering through a realm of nightmares and shadows in search of her sister. Pushing her matted hair back from her sweating brow, she ran faster until a vining briar tangled about her ankle and threw her to the ground. She lay there panting in despair, sobbing and pounding the earth with her clenched fists.
First peeping over the Mountains of Shadow like the rim of a golden coin, the gentle morning light touched the upper branches of the trees. Pulling herself to her feet, Elffled slumped against the trunk of a tree and struggled to catch her breath. Tears streamed down her cheeks and she coughed wretchedly, choking on her own spittle. As the dawning sun broke over the horizon in a glorious burst of brilliant radiance, her light bathed Elffled in a cloak of gold, reflecting upon her hair and turning the tresses to pale yellow. She lifted her head up to soak in the comforting warmth, and as the sun touched the cut on her neck, her skin began to tingle and then itch furiously, as though an insect had bitten it. When she scratched at the annoying sensation, she found that all traces of the cut had vanished.
Her brow furrowed in confusion as she rubbed her skin. Surely she had not imagined that there had been a wound? Not more than an hour ago, her fingers had grazed over the crusty beads of dried blood! But there was nothing there now except her collar. Perhaps the wicked band had been digging into her skin as she had slept, and in the stupor of awakening, she had only imagined that there had been a wound. Whatever the reason, it was unimportant now. What was true cause for concern was the disappearance of Elfhild.
Another hour elapsed before Elffled finally found her missing sister wandering through the woods as though in a trance. Rushing to her in alarm, Elffled shook her to wakefulness and demanded to know what horrors had befallen her. Elfhild stared mutely back at her with a dazed expression upon her face. Irritated at her vapid countenance, Elffled seized her sister's shoulders and shook her roughly.
"Do not leave me in the darkness," Elfhild whispered, her eyes still staring blankly into space. "I am lost and will never find my way."
"Oh, you silly thing!" Elffled exclaimed in anguish. "I will never leave you, not ever!" Then she threw her arms about her, hugging her and showering her with kisses. "Oh, Hild, where have you been? I have been almost out of my mind with worry! I have been searching for you since before dawn. Now that I have found you, please do not ever do anything like that again!" She squeezed her tighter and buried her head in her shoulder.
"What am I doing here?" Elfhild mumbled as she blinked her eyes into focus. Then the memories of the mysterious stranger surged through her mind like the chill, black waters of the deep, and terror infused her features. Last night after he had left her, she felt alone, lost, and abandoned. Sorrow and despair filled her heart, crushing out all thoughts of happiness. Leaving her sister, she had searched for him blindly, hopelessly stumbling through the darkened woods. Tangling vines and brambles had pulled her to the ground and sharp thorns ripped into her flesh, but she had been numb to the pain. All she knew was that she must find this sorcerer who had cast a spell of bewitchment upon her, for if she did not, her soul would perish, her body burning with unquenchable fire for eternity!
Although she ached for him, yearning for another touch of his strong hand, she sensed that he had closed a door to her. Through the whole long night, she stumbled through dark forests filled with shadows and crossed endless meads filled with strange white flowers. Deep within the trees, she felt eyes watching her, and occasionally she heard soft footfalls and sounds like echoing voices. They beckoned to her, calling her closer, but when she had almost reached them, she heard only mocking laughter. She had just waded through a stream whose waters were colder than the snows which gripped the caps of the White Mountains when she saw, shimmering before her, a beautiful city of alabaster.
Then she had awakened with a start, discovering herself far from where she and her sister had camped the night before. As she saw the first glimmers of the new day's dawning, she realized it had all been nothing but a dream. There, in the grim light of dawn, she had felt like a fool. Beguiled by a wicked sorcerer like some poor, ignorant country girl, only to be betrayed in the end! Burning with shame, she was overcome with guilt, a harsher guilt than she had ever felt before in her life. She had allowed, even welcomed, the touches of a stranger, touches like fire that awakened the passion in her. She burnt with shame at the memory, but at least she knew the reason for her strange dream.
The stranger in the woods had bewitched her, filling her mind with lascivious thoughts and desires, and inflaming her body with forbidden pleasure. She would never admit to herself - nor to her sister - that she still craved every last touch, every fiery kiss, every burning feeling that he had stirred up inside her! The shame was too much to bear! Even now she longed for him to take her away from this horrible place and make her his own. Oh, what terrible evil had she and her sister found lurking in the depths of the dark forest!
Panting, Elfhild shoved Elffled aside and clutched at her temples as a wave of nausea swept over her. "That fiend! What vile, unspeakable things has he done to me? He ripped my bodice in twain, and I felt his hands, cold like ice, groping me in places only a husband should touch!" She looked down at her dress, and to her dismay, she found that the material showed no rips or tears. "Oh, Gods!" she cried out in anguish. "What foul sorcery is this?! I - I saw the knife, he raked it across my flesh--" Her throat constricting, she looked around wildly, knowing that her words portrayed her as a fool.
"Elfhild, what are you talking about?" Elffled asked in alarm. "There is nothing wrong with your dress, just a little dirt!"
"The wound," Elfhild whispered, all the color draining from her face. "It - it has to be there! Oh, Gods, it has to be!" Surely the dread blade which had gleamed in the moonlight like a shard of ice had not been only a figment of her imagination! The wicked gash which streaked across her bosom would be evidence of her attack and near rape! Frantically she tore the garment over her head and stood there naked, gaping down at her heaving chest. Where was the blood, the jagged, crusty scab which would have risen over the gory wound? There was nothing, only milky white skin. But wait! -- was that not a faint pink line between her breasts? As she stood there naked beneath the hot sun, suddenly her skin began to tingle and itch, and the pinkness vanished without a trace before her astonished eyes.
"Elfhild, why have you taken off your clothes?" Elffled asked, confused and embarrassed at her sister's sudden display of naked flesh.
"I - I do not understand," Elfhild stammered, feeling faint. "Surely you saw it? The red mark there - that was where he slashed me! But it has healed, just as the rent in my dress has been mended!" Tremors racked her body and she shook as though she were dying of the fever. "Oh, now I know that he was a sorcerer of terrible power!" A paroxysm of terror came over her and she swayed upon her feet. "Oh, Gods, Elffled, what if he were a demon lord?! I - I could have been attacked by a demon--"
"Elfhild! You are imagining things! I saw no mark on your chest! I think you must still be dreaming." Elffled grasped her by the shoulders and shook her again, even harder this time. "There was no sorcerer, or evil spirit, or demon! It was all in your mind. You are awake now!"
Elfhild passed a tremulous hand over her brow. "Oh, Elffled, it was horrible!" She covered her face with her hands and began to moan and weep. "I - I thought that he had killed you! I thought I had lost you forever!"
Putting her arm around her sister's shoulder, Elffled squeezed her gently. "You have been sleepwalking again, dear sister, as you sometimes did in childhood. What must I do with you? Tie you to a tree?" Trying to make light of the situation, she forced a cheerful little laugh, but it sounded more like a hoarse bark. Never had she seen Elfhild so frightened from a dream.
Elfhild's head throbbed, pounding as though a spike were being driven through the bone, and she clutched at her head, her fingers clawing through her tangled hair. "No, no, it was not a dream!" she cried, her breath coming in frantic bursts. "It - it was like some dark ritual - as though I were being sacrificed to an abominable heathen god. The evil sorcerer, or demon, or whatever he was, lifted his dagger high and pierced the skin over my heart as he chanted in some arcane tongue. The sound throbbed in my skull, keeping time with the frantic beating of my heart! As the chanting exploded in my mind, I thought he might tear my heart from my chest, and I looked up at him in terror. His hood obscured his face, and I saw nothing but blackness above me. Then he bent his head down and drank my life's blood as it flowed from between my ravished breasts!" Shaking and sobbing, Elfhild closed her eyes and wailed.
"Elfhild, you need to sit down! You look close to fainting!" Elffled exclaimed in alarm. Obviously, Elfhild had experienced such a vivid dream that she thought it was real. Often when she was a child, she had been tormented by nightmares like this one, horrible night terrors which rendered her insensible to reason. She would cry and scream, and though her terror-filled eyes were open wide, many times she could not tell that she was awake and that the nightmare had passed. When she came to herself, she often had little memory of the terrifying episode, and would fall into a peaceful sleep held in her mother's arms. This troublesome malady ran in the family on their father's side. Elffled herself had been afflicted by sleepwalking and sleep-talking from time to time, but never to the extent which her sister experienced.
"Close to fainting?" Elfhild's voice shook and came out as a hoarse whisper. "Do I look ill?" Did the evil sorcerer take too much blood in his diabolical ritual? Was she going to die? She put her trembling hand questioningly to her cheek, groping her cool, clammy skin in an attempt to feel her own temperature.
"You do look quite pale," Elffled admitted, her voice tense with worry. "Come, let us sit down." Wrapping her arm around her trembling sister, Elffled led her to a fallen log nearby. Elfhild moaned piteously and sank down onto the wood, bending forward as though she were about to retch. Sitting beside her, Elffled rubbed her back comfortingly. "You had a nightmare; that is all it was. But you are awake now, and everything is all right. Look around you; the sun is shining. Her bright rays will chase away the fears of the night."
"It was not a dream," Elfhild mumbled, choking back her tears. "It was real! Do you not remember?" She searched her sister's eyes for any sign of recollection, but she found none. Her heart sank. What trick was the sorcerer playing, to curse her sister with forgetfulness but allow her to remember? Sniffling, she summoned up her courage to recount her horrifying experience. Perhaps something she said would spark Elffled's memory.
"Last night when we lay down to rest, we did not sleep long, for something awoke us. Through the darkness, we saw a strange man leaning against a tree, watching us. We were terrified and tried to creep away and hide in the woods, but he followed us, tracking us like a hunter. We might have gotten away, but a bat swooped down, tangling itself in my hair, and I could not help but scream. Accursed creature," Elfhild spat out with a little shiver. "I think it must have been in his employ!"
"I had the same dream, just as we sometimes share dreams because we are sisters." Elffled smiled softly. "I saw the bat, too, but it was nothing more than a fantasy. My dream must have ended far differently than yours, however, for no visions of sorcerers or demon lords haunted my sleeping mind." Briefly, she thought back to the dream, and she felt a shiver of pleasure course through her body. She would more than welcome such dreams every night if only to feel the handsome man's kisses, heady like wine upon her lips!
"Elffled, this was not a dream! It was real, I tell you! Oh, why do you not believe me?" Straightening her back, Elfhild sniffed and turned to stare at her sister, her eyes pleading with Elffled to believe. "My screams led him to us. He was so terrifying, a tall, ominous figure cloaked all in black. At first I thought he was one of the slaver's men, and I expected that at any moment his men would surround us and force us back into slavery. Then he spoke so strangely, like no one I have ever heard before. I knew he was a sorcerer when he pulled you in his arms and cast his wicked spells upon you, draining your life away with his kisses."
"Draining my life away? I certainly think not!" Elffled could not help giggling. "Oh, that was the best part of the dream! I fainted from the pure pleasure of his kisses. Then the dream became even more romantic, for the next thing I knew, he had lifted me up on his saddle, and we rode away upon a fine black destrier to a beautiful city set upon a hill. He took me to a garden which was filled with fragrant flowers and splashing fountains. There, beneath the light of the moon, we - we," Elffled paused, wrapping her arms around herself and giggling even louder, "well, you do not need to know all of my dream, Elfhild!"
Elfhild stared at her in horror. "I cannot believe that you enjoyed his shameful caresses!" She did not like the nagging thought which had begun to plague her mind. While she had been sleepwalking, searching for the abhorrent sorcerer in her slumbers, had he been making love to her sister in her dreams? Elfhild could not help but feel a pang of jealousy, but then reviled herself for it. She must try to think clearly. They were dealing with an incredibly diabolical evil which would destroy the mind with lewd delusions and send it spiraling into madness!
Elffled shrugged. "It was only a dream. You should not make so much out of it. But if you would know, I would be thrilled to have dreams like that every night! It would certainly be preferable to living every moment of our lives running and hiding and never having enough to eat." Closing her eyes, she swayed and capered about, dancing to some imaginary melody that played only in her thoughts.
"He has bewitched you, Elffled! Can you not see?" Elfhild cried, her voice rising with fear. "He has raped your mind with his witchcraft!" Why would Elffled not believe her? Could she not understand that he had marked them - marked them both - with an unseen stain - and now that he had them, he would never let them go!
"Raping my mind? Elfhild, you are talking pure nonsense!" Elffled did not want to do it, but she knew she must. Stomping over to her twin, she slapped her hard across the face. "Pull yourself together!"
Bringing her hand to her stinging cheek, Elfhild looked at her sister in shock. "You hit me!"
"And I will hit you again if you do not settle down and act reasonably. Look at you!" Elffled stepped back and motioned towards her sister's nudity. "You are stark naked and raving like a lunatic! I would be mortified if someone saw you." It was times like this when she almost wished that they were not related.
"If I am mad, it is because he drove me to it!" Elfhild muttered sullenly, still gingerly touching her face.
"Here, now, sister, you need to put on your clothes." Ignoring her sister's ramblings, Elffled patted her shoulder soothingly. "Let me help you dress."
"Stop patronizing me!" Elffled jerked away from her sister's hand. "I can dress myself! Stop treating me as though I am incompetent!" Flouncing away, she retrieved her dress and pulled it over her head.
"Well, you are acting like one, or worse - someone who has lost her mind," Elffled thought to herself. "Poor, dear Elfhild! Things have gotten too much for you lately! I am sorry for every unkind thing I ever said to you!" She stayed silent, though, for she did not intend to encourage her in this strange fantasy that had possessed her. Instead, she brushed some dirt from her sister's dress and smiled at her.
"Now, I do not know about you, Elfhild, but I am going to have some breakfast." Elffled walked towards the spot where she had dropped her pack and began placing crumbling pieces of stale bread upon a tattered piece of cloth.
Elfhild stood there, glaring at her sister, her hands placed defiantly on her hips. "I do not care what you say - he was there - and only time will reveal what dread spells he has cast upon us!"
Elffled just shook her head. "Mad! My sister is mad!"
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.