A New Shadow - Chapter Three
It couldn't end like this. Not now. No. But it was, and as Tathiel sank deeper, she felt dizzy as she ran out of air, and didn't know exactly where she was. "I'm so tired," she thought. "No one will mind if I sleep for a while." She felt her eyes shutting, more and more... and yet, a light shone down. "It looks so pretty through the ripples, so peaceful, so relaxing" she thought. She didn't want to fall asleep and miss it... but it seemed to be getting closer, nearer. She put up her arm and realized that the thing had let her go. She was free! She swam upwards, towards the light, but her lungs were burning, aching...
Her head broke through the water and she gasped in the cool fresh air. It felt like rain does to a small tree after months without water. She saw the bank and swam as fast as she could towards it. Coughing and spluttering, Tathiel dragged herself out and kneeled there for a minute trying to get her breath back.
"Where am I?" she thought. It was dark and cold; an underwater cave. Where the light had come from, she didn't know, but that was the least on her mind at the moment. She found it hard to see through the darkness, and was squinting when she heard the voice.
"Tathiel... Tathiel... Come to me, my sweet little Elven child..." Tathiel froze. The voice was soft, smooth, but that could not hide the menace and danger that lay in it.
"Come to me... don't try to run... it would be folly..." Her hand strayed to the sword coupled onto her belt. "He knows that you're here, my sweet... he will try to come... to come for you, my sweet!" it hissed, and with those words Tathiel felt a large cold hand clamp over her mouth...
He'd cried himself to sleep, and now he was wandering in elvish dreams. Troubled dreams; but dreams all the same. The moment Tathiel had slipped from his grasp replayed over and over in his mind, and there was nothing he could do about it. He just couldn't wake up. Legolas watched for yet another time as she sank down... but this time, it was different. There was something there, ready to catch her. A great pair of eyes, filled with... evil. He was wondering what this new threat was, what it meant, when it spoke to him;
"She is here... yes, Prince, your sister is here, with me... quite safe... for now at least." Legolas suddenly realized that he was standing in a dark caved place. How he'd got there, and if this was still a dream or reality, he didn't know.
"Who are you? What have you done with my sister?!" he demanded. The being laughed. It wasn't a warm laugh, but cold and mocking.
"All in good time, Prince, all in good time... I would have liked my little `pet' to bring you too... shame you have such good friends. Your sister is safe, as I said before, but her continued safety relies on your speed. How quickly you get here. And don't try to stay away. I won't let her go, unless you come to me. Search around the lake. That's all I'll say..." The voice finished, laughing hideously, as Legolas jolted from the dream and awoke...
Tathiel was terrified. She couldn't see where she was going, but she knew that her hands were bound, there was a blindfold over her eyes and she was being led by a person with raspy breath. It sounded like the same voice that had talked to her earlier. She just kept moving her feet, trying to walk, but she tripped.
"Ahh, can't keep on your feet my sweet? Not to worry, we are where we need to be anyway." Tathiel made no reply. "Oh, the silent type, are we? Never mind. It's not like you're going to be around for long. Or that pathetic moron that you call `brother'. I would have preferred it if my `friend', as I call it, had brought him instead of you. You're much too young, so immature, so useless. Not strong enough. He is though, with weapons at least. But in frame of mind, you elves are all the same. Idiots. So easy to take, to manipulate, to corrupt. Yes, he will come to help you, but he will not leave... You will be your brother's bane my sweet." And Tathiel knew that she was meant to hear every single word...
A hasty voice called.
"She's alive!" Aragorn was shaken from his sleep.
"What the- what are you talking about?" he asked drowsily. Legolas was shaking him hard.
"Wake up, she's alive! Tathiel's alive!" he said. Gimli had woken up as well, and was puzzled to see his friend shaking Aragorn like mad.
"What are you doing? And what do you mean `She's alive'? Tathiel's alive? How do you know that?!" asked Gimli. Legolas turned to him and finally let go of Aragorn, who sat back down and tried to stop the dizziness.
"There was a man... in the dream, and he had Tathiel, he had her and said that he wouldn't let her go unless I came to him..." said Legolas. "He said to `search around the river'." Gimli looked at his friend again.
"Then we should go now. I take it that we're meant to search along the banks." And so the three friends gathered up the few things they had and started their search...
"Nothing! We've been around this cursed lake three times and we've found nothing!" moaned Gimli.
"Gimli, please. Shut up for a while." said Aragorn, making a motion with his head towards Legolas. The elf was looking into the water.
"What's he looking at?" asked Gimli.
"I don't know," said Aragorn. "But I think we should keep an eye on him, you never know what he might do."
In fact, while they had been talking, Legolas saw something very strange and quite alarming in the water. He was kneeling by the bank, searching because he thought he saw some light in the water. He was trying to make it out when he saw them. The eyes again. They were staring straight at him from the water. He froze, startled, when the same voice that had echoed in the dream called up to him.
"Yes, you're on the right track... for now. Look into the water, careful now; you don't want to fall in... That would be just awful, both the Greenleaf children falling in the lake on the same day... what would your father think?" it spat bitterly.
Legolas' fury with this thing, what ever it was, had boiled over.
"No one says that about my family!" he shouted. The voice seemed quite amused at his anger.
"Strong words... but are the vocals matched by the physical strength?.. I think not!" and as it finished those last words, a sharp pain shot through him. He cried out and fell back onto the dirt of the bank with a thud. When he looked again the eyes were gone, and instead of the light he saw a small dark underwater tunnel...