A Tale of Mirkwood - Chapter Fifteen - Revenge
Night wore on, and gradually the merrymaking ceased, all falling quiet in the forest. Mithryn and Legolas lay asleep in bed; their bodies intertwined around each other. Suddenly, the harsh, shrill call of iavin broke the still of the night. Legolas shook himself out of sleep. A great commotion could be heard in the clearing below.
Mithryn woke as he abruptly sat up. "Legolas, what is it? What goes on?"
"I do not know," he said while rising and pulling on his breeches. He hurried to the balcony, gazing out at the chaotic scene below. The iavin could still be heard far in the depths of the forest; Elven warriors hastily massed together in front of the Palace, receiving orders from their commanders. Tarnil and Galamed, armed, ran to the base of Legolas' tower and called up to him.
"What is it?" Legolas shouted down.
"Orcs!" Tarnil cried. "They've attacked our southernmost boarder, and are invading!"
Legolas swung about, and completed his dressing. Glancing over at Mithryn, he saw her doing the same. She wore a pair of his breeches, which were too long for her legs, but which she scrunched up around her ankles. Just as she pulled a tight doublet over her bare chest, he exclaimed, "What are you doing?!"
"You can hardly expect me to fight in a gown, Legolas!"
Legolas stood aghast as she fastened Gilóre around her waist, and slipped on her shoes. "Women do not fight, Mithryn!"
"Need I remind you who saved you near my cabin? Spare me your heroics, husband," she said before striding out of the room and down the steps. Legolas snatched his weapons harness and briskly followed her. They met at the bottom of the stair. Elven-women were scurrying toward the Palace, while soldiers rambled deep into the forest; lovers made their quick goodbyes before being separated. Mithryn and Legolas watched the frenzied scene. "Mithryn, you must listen to me. This is not your fight. Please, I beg of you. Go into the Palace with the others. You shall be safe there."
"How can you stand before me and say that this is not my fight?" Mithryn rebutted. "Is this not my home now? I can be of great service here, Legolas. You know that!"
He clasped her arms tightly. "It is dangerous, do you not understand? In the madness of battle, I cannot protect you."
Mithryn gazed at the massive Palace doors. A sentry of ten soldiers guarded it. "What is their purpose? I had thought the doors magical?"
"They are, but Orcs can still do much damage."
"Can I not fight with them? How likely is it that Orcs shall come this far? Please, Legolas, permit me to do something, other than to sit and stitch tapestries while those I love are in peril. I can be of more use than that. You know of my powers; allow me to use them."
Legolas' eyes darted about the turbulent scene, a thousand thoughts flying through his mind. "As you wish," he said at last. "Though, I would ask that you be extremely careful. I know not what I would do without you."
"I swear to do this, and I hope you follow your own advice. I do not want to lose you this night."
His eyes stared penetratingly into hers before he passionately kissed her with all the distressed love he bore in his heart. Then, without backward glance, he sprinted with agile grace out of the clearing; Mithryn watched him quickly disappear into the void.
The clearing lay eerily desolate now. She approached the garrison protecting the Palace. All did she recognize, but only one did she know by name. The leader of the lethal guards was none other than Elmarin's husband, Taranin, who called out to Mithryn as she approached. "Make haste, Mithryn! The Palace doors must be closed!"
"Then close them," she replied, "for I shall not pass."
The sleek, Elven watchmen eyed her with confused faces. Taranin shook his head. "Mithryn, it is not safe outside now. Pray go in with the other females."
"Nay, Taranin. I make my stand with you. It is my choice to fight, and not to hide," she replied steadfast and determined.
"Mithryn," Taranin began, stepping closer to her, "I apologize for my actions, but you leave me no choice, for no time do I have to argue with you. This is for your own safety." He moved closer to pick her up, but her right hand flew out and with blasting force, sent Taranin hard to the earth. He, as well as the other Elves present, stared at her with startled alarm.
Mithryn withdrew Gilóre from her sheath; the sword burst into resplendent flame. Holding it high aloft her head, she said, "If you insist, Taranin, I shall fight you. However, I think our energy would best be spent combating our enemy instead of each other. Is it still your wish to stand against me?"
Rising off the ground, Taranin scrutinized with awe the womanly warrior who stood before him. "Nay, I do not wish to feud with you. It would be an honour to fight with you at our side, and die if need be."
"Nay," Mithryn said, sheathing her sword. "The honour is mine."
The great stone doors closed and would not again open except upon explicit command of the King. The guards welcomed Mithryn to their post; she took up surveillance with them, gazing with wary eyes into the murky wold.
* * *
Ever vigilant, Legolas ran with speed and intrepidity south. Clashing swords and violent cries could be heard echoing through the hot summer night. Many elven warriors were around him; each alike in dedication to duty and purpose. Legolas swiftly armed his bow, and soon made use of it. Orcs were on the move northward, and his bow began to sing. A mass of menacing Orcs, mouths wide with formidable screams, approached the elves; Legolas abandoned his bow for his long sword which sliced and cut through the wall of Orcs confronting him.
A large Orc violently elbowed Legolas, catching him off-guard and sending him to the ground. Quickly rolling out of the way, he narrowly missed the razor sharp edge of the Orc blade. Legolas rose, and blade collided against blade. With powerful motion, Legolas grabbed the Orc's wrist, and twirled him back, twisting his arm, nearly breaking it. Pushing the great brute hard against a tree, he banged the Orc's hand against it, releasing the creature's weapon. Suddenly, Legolas' eyes gazed downward to the hand which he held fast; there were only four fingers. With sickening awareness, Legolas gazed into the grotesque face of the Orc, recognizing him as among the band that hunted him, all those months past.
"What is your purpose here?!" Legolas snarled.
The odious beast laughed, displaying his mouth of rotting teeth. In reply, Legolas drew up his sword, slowly slicing the Orc's neck; black filth sputtered out. "Where is your leader?!" Legolas demanded. "Where is the beast you call Ugnúl?! I shall slice off your head if you do not tell me!"
The smile faded from the Orc's face; he could feel his warm blood ooze down his chest. "He is here as well. No telling where he is for certain."
"For what do you come here? Tell me!"
"You hold our prisoner."
Legolas stared long into the Goblin's glowing green eyes before finally stepping away. "Go," he instructed the beast.
The Orc turned to leave, but stopped after taking a few steps. "Ugnúl is here for another mission, as well."
Legolas gazed at him with distrustful eyes. "What mission?"
A malicious, evil grin spread across the Goblin's face. "It concerns the witch. Ugnúl knows you hide her here. He has gone in search of her. If you wish to find Ugnúl, find the witch."
Legolas' eyes shot open with horror. "Mithryn," he whispered. Without a second thought, he began running with all his strength back toward the Palace.
The Orc quickly retrieved his blade, and moved to follow Legolas, before promptly being shot by an elven arrow. His body fell to the ground, dead.
* * *
Mithryn stood with the soldiers, eyes fixed on the grim peril positioned before them. Elven bows were armed and ready, while Mithryn's hands were free. A hoard of thirty orcs or more stood at the edge of the forest, their threatening, evil eyes glowing in the darkness. In the center of the mob stood Ugnúl, tall and powerful, smiling venomously at Mithryn. "I'll lay wager," Ugnúl began, "you did not think you should see me again. Whereas I've always known we would meet once more."
Mithryn glared at the massive savage in front of her, but said naught. Though she held no weapon in her hand, her fist was clenched, ready for her breath.
"Cat got your tongue?" Ugnúl smirked. "Never fear; soon I shall have it." He raised up his sword and let up a bloodcurdling roar. His soldiers followed suit, all raising their weapons and making the same bone-chilling sound.
With one motion, Mithryn brushed her fist across her mouth, blowing upon it, and instantly threw its contents at the Orc leader. A burning sphere flew from her hand; Ugnúl swung at it, hitting it with the blunt of his sword. The flaming orb collided with another Orc, and upon impact, covered the goblin in a sheet of flame. The Orc screamed wildly, but his companions were not fazed and none came to his aid. Suddenly, Ugnúl sounded the charge, and they moved forward with puissant force.
Mithryn, however, was not through. She threw up both her hands causing a more powerful blast wave than she had ever before created. The Orcs were sent flying off their feet, and landed far back from where they originally stood. The Elves were quick to use this distraction; arrows soared through the night sky.
Many Orcs were slain, but those not fatally injured appeared undaunted by the defense. They hastily rose and once more assailed upon the small group of Elven warriors and Mithryn. She withdrew and swung Gilóre, killing numerous Orcs with furious intent.
Ugnúl slowly approached Mithryn, filthy sword in his hand, and with a broken arrow protruding from his stomach. He lurched toward her with such loathing and hate, no injury seemed to hinder him. Preparing herself, she grasped Gilóre with both hands, before he suddenly charged at her with brutal force. Ducking, Mithryn barely escaped the swinging blade. The carnage and world around them seemed to fade away, as both were solely focused on each other. Mithryn served a quick kick to Ugnúl's injury; he grunted in pain, which quickly turned to sinister laughter. One gruesome hand of his was forever free, attempting to seize her throat. Fiercely she swung her blade, struggling to keep him at a distance. Knowing that if she could just get one hand free, she could use her powers. Yet, the force of his blows, prevented this; handling Gilóre required both hands.
Changing tactics, Ugnúl swung low at Mithryn's knees. Blocking his thrust, she did not see his hand move close until too late. He clenched her by the throat, and squeezed with delight. Her left hand released her sword, but no breath could she produce from her lips. She placed her hand against his temple, which sent them both flying backward, yet, his hold did not weaken. She landed atop of him, and for one moment, his guard was down. Gilóre still grasped tightly in her right hand, she plunged the blade deep between his ribs. The beast cried out, and his grip finally weakened. She climbed off, leaving her sword in his still body. Gasping for air, she now gazed about the frenzied scene still gripped in bloody action. Fewer Orcs remained, and at first, all Elves seemed busy with battle. Yet, over the pile of gruesome bodies, she saw on the ground, the shine of fair elven hair. She rose, still gasping, and approached the fallen Elf.
"Taranin!" she whispered, kneeling beside her wounded friend. A grisly wound was in his shoulder; blood flowed through her fingers as she attempted to apply pressure. His frightened, earnest eyes bore into hers. "I feel my body weaken," he muttered softly. "I fear the blade was poisoned."
Mithryn's mind raced, for she shared that same fear. Her lip trembled; she had not the supplies needed for this manner of injury, nor was there time to collect them. "If I can simply give him some time," she thought, "perhaps something can be done." Tenderly stroking his pale brow, she smiled and calmly bid him, "Close your eyes, Taranin. You must now focus on recovering. Fear not; I shall not let you die."
Taranin followed her instructions, and lay in painful quiet. Mithryn sighed; her strength was already much spent. Producing a violet orb in her tiny hand, she skillfully applied it to the wound, and sat, eyes closed, in a concentrated, healing state.
Legolas, meanwhile, darted through the brush and forest, legs unable to operate at the speed his heart summoned. Seeing the clearing, he approached it hastily, and stopped in shock upon the sight before his eyes. Ugnúl stood behind a seated Mithryn, his blade poised to strike. Within an instant, Legolas' bow was armed and fired, and yet, it was not fast enough. The great Orc stabbed Mithryn in the back, not a moment before the elven arrow struck his own temple.
Mithryn was ripped from focus; her eyes shot open with excruciating shock. Taranin felt the severed connection as well, and upon opening his eyes, saw Mithryn sitting with a pained expression on her face. "Mithryn?" he asked, confused as to her welfare. Only when his eyes rose above her head did he see the grisly head of Ugnúl. The Goblin fell to the earth in a large heap, his sword slowly sliding out of her back.
"Mithryn!" Legolas cried in desperation, but to no avail, for he had come too late. Watching as she slumped onto her side, he rushed to her, pulling her failing body close, his salty tears landing on her soft cheek. Blinking at him, she weakly smiled. The other elves gathered around, having repelled the orc advance and routed those remaining. With grieving faces, they bowed their heads.
Mithryn's languished hand reached up and placed her bloodied fingers to his soft face. "Shh, do not cry for me, my love. I would not have you cry for me." Her hand slid from his face, and she fell into devitalizing sleep. Drooping his head, and grasping her tightly, he clenched his teeth, releasing a cry of agony.
Thranduil stepped from behind the woeful elves, his eyes summing the events. "Does she live?" he asked, voice steady and composed.
"Aye," Legolas whispered, "she lives, but barely."
The King gazed at Taranin who arose with aid from the others. "Taranin, how do you fare? You have been injured?
"Aye," Taranin replied weakly, "and without the aid of Mithryn . . . I fear I would be here . . . no longer. She was healing me . . . when the beast struck her." He was led to a recovery room for the application os healing poultices and elven tonics.
Immediately turning to one of the soldiers, Thranduil commanded, "Fetch Armenil, and have her meet us in Legolas' Palace chamber." The elf bolted in quick response, and Thranduil focused his attention on his son and daughter once again. "Legolas, she must be moved; no time is there to spare. Thoreiel, help Legolas carry her."
"Nay!" Legolas cried out. He rose onto his feet, holding her small, limp body tightly in his grasp. "She is my wife. No other shall carry her."
"As you wish," the King replied, and together, they moved with haste down the winding passages to Legolas' previous bedchamber. Blankets were pulled back to reveal fresh sheets, water was fetched, medicines presented, a fire lit, and Armenil there to greet them. Legolas tenderly placed his unconscious, beloved wife upon his bed.
"Naturally you are permitted to stay, your Majesty, but I would not recommend it," Armenil said calmly, wanting to aid her friend as soon as possible.
"Nay, Armenil," Thranduil replied. "None shall be in your way. Come Legolas, we shall wait together."
Legolas, much distraught, covered his mouth with his hand, attempting to ease the ill feeling inside him. "I wish to stay with her," he said quietly.
"Nay, son," Thranduil commanded, gently. "You can do naught for her now. Your brothers shall be returning soon. Come; we shall all wait for news side by side."
Reluctantly, Legolas obeyed. Hand on his son's shoulder, the King led him out and shut the door.
* * *
Sitting at the long oak table in his father's reception hall, Legolas knew not what to think, for his mind was a torrent of memories, fears, and realizations. In a daze, he sat hunched over, and consumed himself with contrition.
Thranduil watched his son with growing concern. Dispatchers continuously arrived, relaying news of the battle to their King. They whispered quietly away from Legolas, not wanting to concern him any more. Upon the last soldier's departure, Haldof burst into the room, dirty and tattered from the combat. Eyeing his brother in a wretched state, he approached his father.
"I am extremely glad to see you are well, Haldof," the King said affectionately. "We have some grievous losses, I understand."
"More than you know, Father," Haldof whispered. "I can find no trace of Sméagol, and what I did discover, disturbs me. The Orcs hunt for him as well; somehow the little deviant spoiled their plan. That did not prevent them, however, from slaying Imcamion and Nurgollion, and taking Nursarn and Maeglonde. I greatly fear for them."
Haldof waited as Thranduil took in the serious news. "Organize several searching parties to look for our kinsmen, as well as for Sméagol. Have Nathuil lead them. I wish you to stay here. Your brother, I think, will need you."
"Has there been any word of Mithryn?" Haldof asked, voice lowered so Legolas would not hear.
Thranduil shook his head. "I fear the worst."
Haldof nodded in understanding, and strode off to carry out his father's orders.
* * *
Within an hour's time, Tarnil and Galamed entered and sat by their brother. Little would Legolas say to them, shocked as he was, but they were there for support and not conversation. At length, Haldof entered, announcing quietly to his father that the search parties had been chosen and sent forth. Taking a seat beside Legolas, Haldof placed a strong hand on his sorrowful brother's back. "Nay, Legolas. Have no disparaging thoughts. Mithryn is strong. I am confident she shall heal."
"Are you certain you should be saying such?" Tarnil asked gently.
"I only say what is in my heart," Haldof replied. "However, your words may be wise."
"She shall recover," Legolas whispered, eyes red and worried.
Hours passed wearily. Thranduil spoke quietly with Captains and dispatchers who came and went, informing him of the status of the search and of his realm. Much damage had the Orcs caused, but their rotting corpses begot an even larger problem which now had to be dealt with.
Legolas' mood grew darker, rampaging thoughts of self blame devouring him. The ceaseless sitting and waiting proved too much for Haldof. He rose, pacing around the room in an anxious state. "Surely we should have heard some word by now!"
"Armenil is working as fast as she is able to cure Mithryn," the King said, calmly. "When there is news to hear, we shall be the first to hear it."
Suddenly, Armenil stepped into the reception hall. All rose upon her entry; Legolas dashed to her side, eyes begging for good tidings. "Please, Armenil, I beg of you. Does my wife live?"
The wise Elf-matron stared into his searching eyes. "Aye, Legolas. She lives."
All sighed with relief upon hearing her encouraging words. "And will she recover?" Thranduil asked.
"Aye, my Lord. I believe she will," Armenil replied.
"May I see her?" Legolas asked with desperation. Armenil nodded, and Legolas sprinted from the hall.
"Father," Tarnil said, now eased, "may I sound the call, informing our people?"
The King granted his son's wish, and Tarnil and Galamed strode off, now much relieved for their brother's sake, as well as Mithryn's. Thranduil approached Armenil and grasped her delicate hands. "You know not what comfort you have brought to me, or my sons."
"I fear," Armenil began, "that I have not told your Lordship all."
Thranduil and Haldof exchanged glances of newfound trouble. "Ai, what is this?" the King bade. "What detail have you not said?"
Armenil's face turned solemn. "She was stabbed, your Grace. I have examined the blade, and I believe there to be a most serious problem. When the sword struck her, it is my opinion that the tip of the sword broke off inside her. It hinders her recovery."
"Can it not be removed?" Thranduil asked, disturbed.
"Nay, your Lordship. At first, I was puzzled why the toxins were so very potent for that sort of wound. I cannot remove the shard. It is embedded too deeply," Armenil said, eyes staring steadfastly at her King.
"But you said she would recover," Haldof interceded.
"Aye, for a time," Armenil continued. "It is my understanding that she bears great power and strength. I believe it is what is keeping her alive. However, unless the shard can be removed, it will kill her. It is only a matter of time."
"How much time?" Thranduil asked.
Armenil thought for a moment. "Three, perhaps four winters. I do not feel comfortable giving a number. She will recover for the moment, but, it will start to debilitate her slowly. She will weaken, and then perish. Its evilness cannot be undone."
Haldof and Thranduil stood in silence, pondering the healers foreboding words. "Is there more?" the King asked at last.
"Nay, my Lord. That is the whole."
"Then you may retire. Thank you so much for your efforts."
"It was my pleasure, my Lord."
Armenil turned to leave, when the King suddenly called her back. "Just one more thing, Armenil. I would ask that you do not repeat to anyone what you have just spoken to me."
"I understand, my Lord," Armenil replied before exiting the hall, leaving the King and Haldof alone.
"Poor Legolas," Haldof said, brow furrowed. "Do you wish to tell him of this, or shall I? I do not mind, Father."
Thranduil stood, mind focused in thought. "Nay, we shall not tell him."
Haldof gaped at his father. "Say naught to him? But, he has a right to know! Do you not think Mithryn shall tell him?"
The King shook his head. "She is not to know either," he said as he took a seat by the fire.
Staring in horror, Haldof could not contain his indignation. "But, they each have a right to know! What is your meaning in hiding this from them?!"
"Though you may not believe it, my son, ignorance is bliss. Let them share what time they have together, not brooding on what the future holds for them. They are not to know." Turning to his son, his eyes were fierce and severe. "You are not to tell them, or any. Is that understood?"
"Is this the King's command, Father?" Haldof asked, haughtily.
"Aye, it is."
"As you bid, your Majesty," Haldof said impudently before storming out of the hall.
* * *
Legolas rushed with hurried footfalls along the myriad of corridors to the chamber that bore his wife. Once standing at the closed door, however, he was hesitant to open it and face reality. Slowly it swung open, displaying Mithryn, pale and motionless, lying on his draped bed. He approached her, undone by her deathly face and struggling breath. Sitting beside her and taking her cold, clammy hand in his, he spoke her name softly, with much ache and love. Her eyes slowly opened and sparkled like glistening emeralds.
"Legolas," she whispered raspily, "you have finally come."
"I am here, my love; I am with you now. Never should I have left you," he said, chin trembling.
"There is naught you could have done. I hold you in no fault, and wish you would do likewise. If I should die . . ."
"Do not say such!" he replied, quick to rebuke her dooming words. A tear trickled leisurely down his cheek. "I have spoken to Armenil. You shall recover, I know you shall. Do not speak of things you know not. Would you leave me here so alone?"
"It is my fate," she said sadly. "Whether it be tomorrow or in a thousand years. The time will come. You must not fancy that it will not. It is possible that my death is closer, now, than we had hoped. I do not wish to leave you."
Legolas leaned over and kissed her fevered brow. His lips were refreshingly cool to the intense heat of her skin. "It cannot be so. You must struggle to live. Promise that you shall fight for us."
She stared into his blue eyes. "I promise," she whispered.
He drew her close, cradling his frail wife lovingly against his chest, and sung an ancient tune; soft and sweetly it fell on her ears. He would treasure these moments for always.