1. Chapter I
Despite the fact his right arm hung in an awkward angle Celebrían noted with sorrowful heartache how her guard captain still valiantly held his sword. Dragged and harried as a group, regardless of injuries they passed into the mountain lair, Celebrían vainly turned to try and catch a last glimpse of the light as she stumbled further down the dark tunnels. They were forced at such a pace, twisting and turning. Celebrían glimpsed many other tunnel branches in the gloom and despaired; even if they managed to break free of their captors they would never find a way out. Laboured breathing of one of her guards reached her ears and he had obviously sustained much hurt in battle, Celebrían would reach out to touch him comfortingly if she knew where he was. The tunnel narrowed and rough, bristling bodies surrounded her own, their grunting breath and horrid laughter assaulted her. Skin crawling she had no choice but to stagger on. Catching her foot upon the uneven ground she was sprung forwards and bit back a cry of pain as her foot twisted in the wrong direction, her breath came in ragged sobs as she was forced to run on; slowing down was no option. How much further would it be?
Her foot dragged on the floor, the delicate skin becoming more torn with every step. How her battle weary and sore guards were fairing she dare not imagine. Finally, after the endless twisting and turning in the dark passages Celebrían and her guards were thrust through a small aperture in the wall and all landed heavily on the stone floor, mouths wide in attempt to regain breath. Together they crawled towards the wall and propped themselves against it, eyes warily glancing to the small opening in the stonework that marked the door. They sat in silence for a few moments, regaining their breaths and then their wounds and hurts began to sting and ache anew. To her left the youngest member of the guard let out a low groan as he flexed a sliced arm, the skin either side pulling apart further. Turning her attention to her head guard whose laboured breaths continued she gently tried to remove the buckle of his leather embossed chest plate.
"No," his voice was weak, "Leave it." He tried to push her hand away but could not raise his arm high enough. Closing his eyes his voice was so quiet Celebrían had to strain to hear him, "I have failed you my lady."
"No," Celebrían breathed soothingly, smoothing his hair back from his face "You have fought bravely and protected me with your own life, risking all. You are honoured my friend,"
She thought she detected a faint smile, a minimal curving of his lips.
"Protect the lady, do your duty," he said to the other guards "I hold you in my utmost respect for how you have acted. I pray that you will live to see the light again." They nodded solemnly and he who was sitting alongside him soundly gripped his hand. His breathing was becoming painful to listen to, his sword now lay on the floor at his side, the hilt in limply curled fingers. Celebrían wondered why they had not taken it from him; obviously such base creatures could not appreciate the strength of a true warrior. "Tell," he took a deep breath "Tell my wife, tell her for me."
His soldier and friend helping him to his feet and wrapping his struggling fingers more tightly around his blade, the head guard stood summoning as much reserves his body had left. Then he was gone, shrill battle cry echoing around the small confines of the room, running sword aloft and eyes aglow with a manic light towards the doorway. He would not die dishonourably lying injured down in that hole. Blood dripped from under his armour like spots of rain, one unready sentry finding his guts impaled on the end of the sword and the thick blood gushed forth over the valiant elf's hands as he withdrew his sword and swung again dispatching the goblin looming behind him. They began to surround him, his sword swings becoming wilder and less accurate as his broken arm took its toll. Eventually his fingers gave in and his sword was knocked across the room in a spinning arc. Its clatter upon the floor was lost in the screaming. Celebrían wished she could tear her eyes away from the butchery but stared in horrid fascination as he was hacked to bits where he stood. The fine crafted armour could not have withstood such a reckless onslaught. Bone cracked and even when he was fallen to the ground they did not stop, the small group of them enjoying themselves. Screwing her eyes shut too late, for the image was imprinted in Celebrían's mind.
How long it had been they knew not, in the windowless chamber there was no telling if it was day or night, only that they knew they could not rest. Together they sat, hands tightly held, in the cave-like room, the light of the torch from the doorway not close enough to flicker across their grief and pain wrought faces. Shadows grew larger and there was more noise from outside. None of them had ventured far enough to see outside, and still they sat in a line, backs pressed against the wall as a group of goblins and orcs skulked into the room, presumably a chieftain clad in leather and ragged furs at their head. In a flash it seemed the most senior of her guards was plucked from along the wall.
"No!" Celebrían tried to keep a grip upon his hand and tug him back yet swords and other cruder looking implements began to fence in around her and she felt his hand slipping from her own. Doubling over as she received a kick to her stomach she attempted to cover her head as several blows rained down upon her. Her other guard received the same treatment. More light filled the room and Celebrían could see a fire had been started in the corner of the room from where she crawled along the floor. She wished she had not guessed what it was for. Laughing and jeering, the figures in front of her parted and Celebrían saw him, still managing to stand tall despite the fact his once shining and proud dark mahogany locks lay scattered on the floor around him and standing in odd upright tufts from his head. The chieftain swaggered forwards and his bony skull was smashed against her guard's. Staggering dazedly the guard walked right into the kick of an orc behind him and fell forward on his face. His body rolled across the floor with the kicks and butts from one or two spears he received.
Then for a moment, Celebrían believed they were to be spared as she heard cries of pain from the orcs and saw them scurrying backwards. Yet it was not a saviour cutting through the crowd but yet another goblin swatting either side of him with a length of metal. A length of metal that was glowing fiercely orange. A section of wrapped around leather protected his hand as he swatted either side of him clearing a path, singing and burning even his own kind. Whilst he lay prone on the floor, they pinned him down and without pause the burning metal was pressed against his calves. He writhed in agony as it was pressed down mercilessly. Again her view was obscured and this time Celebrían was thankful.
What she would have seen was the skin barely having time to blister before the burning brand was applied to his skin yet again lower down and then above and then below again. Before long his fair skin was red and raw, and though Celebrían could not see and was huddled against her remaining guard the smell and sounds reached them both. They hauled him upright, maybe it was a foolish move for him to try stagger away for then they swung the metal out after him, this time his shoulder bore the brunt. His eyes wildly rolling, the torment having claimed his mind he vainly tried to stagger on. They chased him and delighted in it, the goblin lashing out when he chose and when their fun was spoilt by their prey reaching a wall the goblin promptly drove the thin length of metal through the guards chest, pinning him there.
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.