2. Chapter 2
The night passed so slowly. Farielle lay on the sand, staring at the starry sky. It was so clear and so remote. Tears trickled down her cheeks and soaked into the ground. Her shoulders ached from being pulled forward, and her hands throbbed. She could barely feel her feet. 'This can't be real!' she thought frantically. 'I'm dreaming... I'll wake up soon, and be back - back in the healer's tent, with Eloissel calling me to hurry up and bring her hot water...'
The stars wheeled overhead, men snored and grunted in their sleep. Someone walked towards her - she shut her eyes and refused to look. They stood over her for a long time before she heard their footsteps going away again. The sky slowly turned grey, then pink, then the sun burst over the horizon, hot and white, and her captors stirred. Farielle choked back a whimper of terror as one man knelt over her, reaching out to grab her arms. But all he did was pull her up. His shoulder dug into her stomach as he stood.
Through the rubble of the streets, two men wind their way through, the second man carrying a barefooted and bound woman over his shoulder. As they find the Lady of Seaward Tower, their direction has more purpose, as does their stride. "Lady." The first says, bending a knee. The second man stops behind, bending down to drop his prisoner on her feet, and holds her standing up, as balance is a little difficult for her.
Eruphel is watching two men sparring, but turns as she is addressed. "Yes?" She looks at the first man, then the second, then the young woman.
The sparring men - Gimildaur of Farside Tower and Hayya of Seaward - are focused on each other, and ignore the newcomers.
Farielle sags - it is a good thing that the man is holding her up; not only are her feet tied, but her legs have gone to sleep and she couldn't stand on her own. Her dark hair is filled with sand and there are smudges on her face - which is white and terrified. Wide eyes stare at the woman, then dart towards the sound of blades clashing against each other.
Broad movements between the combatants distract Eruphel for a moment, and she laughs and claps as Hayya dodges a blow, and again less enthusiastically as he lands one. "Very good, very good!" she says, then turns to the two men. "So what is this?" she asks, looking at the frightened girl with...compassion, but not pity.
"My Lady, I am Miki'al, and this is Takar, and I believe that you have said that you would pay double for a captured slave with some highborn heritage."
"Highborn heritage?" Eruphel repeats, looking at the young woman more closely now. "Is she untouched?"
"So far as we know, yes, Lady." he says, bowing his head.
Eruphel looks at Farielle, the girl's wide, scared eyes almost amusing. "Tell me then, girl, what is your name, and who are you related to?"
The woman is talking and Farielle drags her gaze away from the fight to stare at her. Her eyes are a blueish-grey, not the straight grey of most Gondorians. "F-Farielle," she stammers after a minute. "Girithlin." She repeats what she told Miki'al earlier, still unsure if it is the proper answer to a question she finds entirely bewildering. Why do these barbarians want to know who she is related to? "My - my father is Caronn Girithlin, and - and my mother was of Draudagnir."
Eruphel sighs, her brow furrowing. "Unbind her." she says.
The man kneeling rises, and the two exchange a look between them, unsure what this command means. Did they get someone not worthy? "You better be worth it." Miki'al threatens in Farielle's ear as he holds her up, so Takar can start on the hands, teasing loose the knots that have been tightening and straining all night. After a while, he decides to just cut it, and pulls out his knife and begins sawing.
Farielle winces as the ropes are cut away from her hands, gritting her teeth to keep from crying out. The ropes were not so tight as to cut off the circulation, but they have rubbed her wrists and ankles raw.
Nearby, Hayya is struck and swiftly yields the match. Eruphel sighs, and shakes her head. "In battle, Hayya Mor, if you can pick up a longsword, do so." She looks at Gimildaur. "And I thank you. You are a fine swordsman. It is a pity you are not in my tower, sir."
A slight nod is what Gimildaur gives Hayya before he sheathes his scimitar. He turns his glance to Eruphel and shrugs his shoulders slightly. "Had my interests been more to the liking of my father, no doubt I would be, Lady. As it turned out, however..." He trails off and shrugs once more. "Shall you be needing me for anything else?"
Eruphel smiles. "Well, perhaps your interests can still change. Please, sup in my tent on the morrow, for I would enjoy hearing a story about your father. Till then, I thank you." she dismisses him, and turns to look at Farielle. "Come here, Hayya. What is a Draugandir...Draudagnir, is it? Yes." She turns her head to look at him. "What is that?"
"I shall see if I remember any stories," says the Master Crusader rather neutrally; his gaze flicks to Farielle and the situation there. A brief frown mars his features before he bows his head to Eruphel. "Lady," says the man before he turns and resumes his walk.
Quickly Hayya moves to his Mistress while saying, "Yes, Mistress." He is favoring his one leg a bit as he moves. He stops next to his mistress and says, "Draudagnir is one of the smaller Noble houses of Gondor."
The girl staggers as her feet are cut free, looking back and forth between the Haradrim. "They are a fitting match for Girithlin," she says, with a faint hint of haughtiness, as Hayya's words seem to denigrate her mother's kindred.
"Good enough." Eruphel says. "Very well then, Farielle of House Draudagnir, you look...somewhat pretty..." she begrudgingly says, "Hayya, you will take her to the smithy and have some shackles placed on her feet, and a heavy stone attached. Her hands can be free. Inside the tent, you will see that she has what she needs to clean herself up." Eruphel scratches her cheek thoughtfully. "I do not have anything else for her to wear just now."
Bowing his head to Eruphel, Hayya says, "Yes, Mistress, it will be done." Moving over to the young woman, he places his hand on the back of her neck and grips it tightly, but not overly so, saying to her, "You will do as my Mistress commands." Looking back to Eruphel, he asks, "Shall I take her now?"
Somewhat pretty. Farielle's eyes flash, anger once more driving back the ever-present fear. But all she says is, "Girithlin. I am of House Girithlin." But the mention of shackles and a stone - terror leaps up once more, to be forceably beaten down; she flinches at the touch on her neck, but manages not to cry out.
Eruphel nods now, smiling blandly at Farielle's insisting reply. "Take her now. I will return to my tent, and rest." she says, and after looking around once more to take it all in, she remembers the two men. "Ah yes, the price." She reaches into her pocket, pulling out several coins, which she counts. "Double the price of a slave...for each of you." she says, then moves on, making her way eastward now.
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.