A Sea of Stars-a tale of dagers and love: Chapter Seven - a journey through the Misty Mountains

The ornately decorated doors at the end of the Black Hall clicked and swung open with a gentle whoosh. A single solitary figure stood in the opening. The Black Lady. Her dress was long, her hair was smooth and her shoulders were square. The Lord shifted uneasily in his throne.

His black eyes glinted in the small patch of Moonlight that filtered through a skylight, directly above his throne, and bathed him with an eerie glow. He wore a black tunic, closed in the front by three silver clasps and red, loose fitting pants. His face was just like the Lady's in that it was in-humanly handsome and pale as a vampire's. His shoulder length hair was pulled back into a short tail at the base of his head.

The room was much like the Lady's. It had barely any decor beside the large throne that took up much of the far wall. Columns supporting the vaulting ceiling ran from the South wall, where the door was, to the North wall, by which the throne sat. The columns were set about ten feet away from the East and West walls to allow for more storage room. A wide walkway was between the rows of columns. Chests of dragons gold, swords and various other items were stacked neatly against the West wall.

The Lord's advisers and their desks were placed against the East wall. The Lady approached the throne. Her heels clicked lightly against the smooth black floor. She stopped at the base of the throne stairs.

"The air is unusually warm this eve. I came to see if you thought this change inadequate. Are you alright? I could have a slave open up the skylight for you and let in the night air."

"No thank you I am quite alright. I was just thinking. I appreciate your concern, however." His lips formed an uneasy and somewhat fake smile. He wasn't one of humor and smiles. Somehow it came out as a grimace.

"What's wrong my dear?" Inquired the Lady. "Is it something I did?"

"What? No, no it wasn't you." He tryed to hide his suspicion. The Dark Lady was uncharacteristically...kind. This unerved the Lord. He decided to be cautious around her. He had learned to keep a low profile during days like these, though, somehow along the years, she had managed to worm her way into his black heart. Deep inside him, love was begining to take it's hold.

"Truth be told," she continued, "I came in here for a bit of company." She edged closer to the throne. "It grows lonely in that great hall of mine." A few moments time found her up the stairs of the throne and standing infront of the Lord.

"I admire the way you are ruling the lands you control. I think it very corageous that you are taking on the world with only one force."

She sat lightly on his lap. Her slender finger traced a path along his square jaw line. He tryed to speek. She placed her finger on his lips.

"You needn't speek." She planted a soft kiss on his cheek. The Lady seemed to be testing her grounds. The Dark Lord was known to be unpredictable and extremely violent if he thought he was being threatened.

"You and I are unique, m'lady. We should spread our influence around the world." Said the Dark Lord. It was true. They were the only two of their kind, there was no other.

"How right you are m'love, how right you are. Our evolution should be spread around for all to enjoy." She kept a smile on her face. Inside she was dying of boredom. She hated small talk, especially flattery.

"You, m'lord, are the most important thing to happen to this world." Behind the Lord's back, the Lady silently drew a black handled dagger. Curled around the silver blade was a red dragon. The tail of the dragon ran all the way up to the tip of the dagger's hilt.

"But, unfortunately, each evolution carries the seed to it's own destruction. It has come to my attention that your seed has bloomed." She plunged the dagger hilt deep into the Lord's back. Tendrils of green snaked their way into the clear jewel mounted on the end of the hilt. The arms grew larger and soon the entire jewel was a bright green.

When she was satisfied, the Lady yanked the dagger out of his back. His body slumped forward. She wipped the blade clean on the back of his tunic and stood up. The Black Lady strode quickly out of the Hall with the dagger that contained the Dark Lord's soul in hand.

When she passed through the door way, she could be heard saying, "Now that he's out of the way..."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

The stars glittered in a velvet sky. The two had been traveling for four days since the attack. They had been living off of the few roots and plants they could scavenge at the base of the mountains. They kept small pouches full of the roots in their one pack for future snacking. Meneldil pulled Gilthoniel to a stop.

"We should rest here for the night. Gilthoniel is nearly about to collapse and you look none the better."

Meneldil jumped from Gilthoniel's back and offered Earwen his hand. She took it and landed lightly beside him. She survayed the area they had stopped in. It was no more than a small path cut into the sheer wall of a cliff.

"What is the matter? You do not seemed satisfied." Said Menelil. Earwen blushed lightly. She did not like to be considered picky.

"That attack a few nights ago has made me more wary, that's all. It seems to me that we should be taking better cover."

Meneldil quickly remembered Celeborn's words. He had said that Earwen was the wisest of the two and that he should listen to her advise. Meneldil nodded.

"I agree. Whatever you think is best it what we shall do." Earwen looked suprised.

"What has happened to the thought that you were leader and I was meerly along to destroy a few dark lords?" Menelidil chuckled quietly.

"I was just thinking about how Celeborn had advised me to listen to what you had to say so...I am. If you think we should take better cover, than so be it." Earwen's bent into a look of suprise and success. She new she was destined to be the leader of this trek, but she had never expected Meneldil to give in to that fact.

"I saw a cluster of bushes a little while ahead of here. Perhaps that would provide enough cover for this one night." Meneldil nodded his consent and picked his pack off of the ground and once again mounted Gilthoniel.

They followed the path for a while and finally found the bushes Earwen had described. Meneldil brought Gilthoniel in close and she lay down behind the bushes as if she knew she needed to stay hidden.

Earwen and Meneldil once again huddled close together under the small blanket. Earwen fell asleep with her head laying against Menelidil's shoulder.

Hours passed and still Meneldil couldn't sleep. He finally moved Earwen's head from his shoulder and crawled to the edge of the bushes. He peered out into the night. All was pitch black and only a sliver of the Moon could be seen in the folds of the sky. Seeing no dangers, he crawled out a little further. He felt for the edge of the path and found it quite suddenly when his hand shot out into an abyss.

He snatched his hand back. He sighed in relief. Meneldil lay himself flat on his stomach and looked over the sharp edge. He looked down upon pointed and jagged rocks. He could see nothing else. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a slight movement. Meneldil's heart skipped a beat as he realized it was one of the beast's they had encountered a few days ago.

It was silently creeping up to the bushes on all fours. He held himself low to the ground and was obviously not meerly passing by. He knew Earwen was there. The monster stopped short of the bushes and crouched down like a cat. His tail began swishing ack and forth, just like a tiger's does while laying in ambush. Meneldil froze. It hadn't seen him yet. He was also up-wind from the monster, so it wouldn't smell him.

The monster suddenly turned his head and looked right where Meneldil lay flat on the ground. It's eyes seemed to roam the ground around him, but it did not detect Meneldil. It turned back to it's job of finding Earwen. It gave a small, quiet, triumphant yelp as it saw Earwen in the bushes.

A large, bony hand shot out from beneath the crouched body of the monster. The hand plunged into the depths of the bushes. Earwen screamed. The monster brought in it's other hand and began to pull with all it's strength. Meneldil still couldn't move from terror. A small white foot appeared from within the bush. Meneldil realized it had a hold of Earwen's ankle!

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