An Aussie in King Aragorn's Court ~ Chapter 40 - The Questioning

Evanescence

how can you see into my eyes like open doors
leading you down into my core
where i've become so numb
without a soul
my spirit sleeping somewhere cold
until you find it there and lead it back home

wake me up inside
wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before i come undone
save me from the nothing i've become

now that i know what i'm without
you can't just leave me
breathe into me and make me real
bring me to life

wake me up inside
wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before i come undone
save me from the nothing i've become
bring me to life
bring me to life

frozen inside without your touch without your love darling
only you are the life among the dead

all this time i can't believe i couldn't see
kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
i've been sleeping a thousand years it seems
got to open my eyes to everything
without a thought without a voice without a soul
don't let me die here
there must be something more
bring me to life

wake me up inside
wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before i come undone
save me from the nothing i've become
bring me to life
bring me to life

**********

1 March, 3019


He was pressing her for an answer. It was the second day since she had awoken from her long sleep and Coralie had joined Ôlchir for her first proper meal in days. Halfway through dinner, Ôlchir began to ask her questions about her travels before they had met after her rescue.

"Where are they taking the Ring?" he asked again, taking a sip from his goblet.

Coralie studied Ôlchir in return. She didn't remember mentioning the Ring to him. His eyes met hers with disarming intent. For a moment Coralie felt herself falling into those fathomless wells as he pressed her yet again. She shook her head as a sudden drowsiness overcame her.

"Sleepy my Dear?" inquired Ôlchir with a slight smile.

Coralie gazed into the black pools of his eyes, which now gleamed insistently as he repeated the question. She could feel the tug upon her will as though a great hand were leafing through her mind as the pages of a book. Suddenly it was as if a whole bookcase had been overturned upon her as questions one after the other cascaded through her mind.

"What do you know about the Ring?"

"Which hobbit is Baggins?"

"What part do you play in the Fellowship?"

"Where are they taking the Ring?"

"No," she said faintly as her head dropped under the assault.

"No?" snarled the old man. "NO? I will not take no for an answer."

Collecting himself, Ôlchir reached out a hand and grasped Coralie's firmly in his own as he again assumed an expression of concern upon his face. "Come child," he continued with a tone of buttered honey. "You are safe at last. Surely you wish to have your companions safe as well. I can help them."

"Help them?" asked Coralie feeling a little confused.

Ôlchir smiled as he patted her hand. "Yes my dear girl. I can help them. Your companions are known to me, and I to them. Gandalf and I are friends. We belong to the same order and he would approve of my aiding the Quest."

"He can't do that Ôlchir, for he is dead," replied Coralie somberly.

"Ah! I see that things have not turned out quite as he expected then," mused Ôlchir. The corners of his mouth turned up slightly before he adopted a more concerned expression once again.

Coralie's head was bowed as she contemplated the folds in her skirt.

"Then you have no choice but to trust me my Dear." Olchir's smooth voice oiled its way into Coralie's conscious once more.

"Trust you?" she replied tentatively.

"Yes, My Dear. You must trust me, for the sake of the Quest."

"For the sake of the Quest," echoed Coralie.

"Yes," continued the old man with eyes alight. "Gandalf would want it so. Your companions have abandoned you."

"Abandoned me," she droned.

"Yes, and the Valar have sent you here, to me for safe keeping. It was indeed fortunate that I was able to rescue you when I did," he emphasised.

"You rescued me."

"Now let me help you, my Dear."

"Help me?" Coralie abandoned the study of her dress and looked into the now bright eyes of the old man. No longer did they seem bleary and tired as before, but instead a pale glow seemed to emanate from within.

"Yes. I am here to help you. And you must help me. Otherwise the Quest will be lost and Gandalf will have died in vain. He would have wanted you to confide in me, for I am your last hope."

"My last hope." Coralie's statement sounded flat, as she gazed into Olchir's eyes. He nodded to her in agreement.

"I am your last hope. I am the Quest's last hope also, and you must tell me all you know, if there is to be any chance of it succeeding."

Coralie nodded in return.

"The Quest's last hope."

"I will not abandon you as Azza and Leggy did." The old man smiled to himself as the strange sounds of those names rolled off his tongue.

"Azza and Leggy?"

"Yes. Such odd names. You said them over and over again during your sickness whilst you slept. Who are they?" inquired Ôlchir with careful restraint.

"Azza and Leggy," repeated Coralie as a flood of memories washed through her mind.

Aragorn and Boromir stood laughing on the riverbank clapping each other's shoulders in a congratulatory salute. They were making plans to toast the union of their houses.

"Unite our houses," said Coralie stiffly.

The old man leaned in towards her as he grasped her hand. "You spoke of a union of houses, Child. Which houses were you referring to? Boromir's house is that of the Stewards of Gondor, but this Azza I know nothing of."

Coralie's mind began to reel at his words as another image assaulted her mind. The Dwarf now stood accusingly before her. Why was he so angry? She clutched at the image with her mind, desperate to make some sense of what she was now experiencing. Legolas stood in the distance with a pained expression on his face. Why did he look so sad? Suddenly, it came to her. She had betrayed him with Boromir! But no! That was not the truth of the matter."

"This can't be true!" she gasped all of a sudden.

"What do you mean, Child? What can't be true?" insisted Ôlchir as he grasped her hand even more tightly in his own.

"I couldn't have betrayed Legolas. I simply couldn't have! Not with Boromir!" she replied with a sob.

"Legolas? I know that name. Ah, yes! Thranduil's son. So that is who the Elf was I saw in her dreams," thought Ôlchir with smug satisfaction. "Now to find out more about this 'Azza', and whom he might be." From within the folds of his robe, he brought forth a small white kerchief and handed it with seeming tenderness to Coralie.

"If it wasn't Boromir then, could it have possibly been this Azza who captured your affections?"

"Azza?" laughed Coralie with incredulity. "Of course not. He's my brother!"

"Your brother?" responded Ôlchir with equal incredulity. This was quite unexpected. He had not thought her to be kin with any of the Company, but rather a stranger of sorts. "Then this Azza person, cannot be whom I had presumed at all, for he has no living kin," he thought to himself.

"This can't be true!" sobbed Coralie again. The memory that she was experiencing now filled her heart with utter revulsion, but even more devastating was the humiliation she felt at Aragorn's treatment of her as he 'contracted' her future with Boromir.

"Then what is the truth, my Dear? Come now, confide in me." With a long, snake-like finger, the old man carefully tilted Coralie's chin up towards him.

"Truth?" asked Coralie as she felt herself being lulled into the deep wells of his eyes once more.

"Yes. Tell me the truth of this whole matter that you have become embroiled in, and I shall help you," soothed Ôlchir.

Coralie continued to gaze at Ôlchir as his words echoed in her mind. "What was the truth?" she thought vainly as she tried to make sense of her memories. "Could any of this be true?" Her heart rejected what her mind was telling her. "Oh Lord," she thought. "What is the truth for I feel I don't know any more?"

"For the truth shall set you free!" She barely caught the whisper that passed through her mind in response.

"For the truth shall set me free," Coralie echoed softly.

Ôlchir nodded in response. "Yes, my Dear. For the truth shall set you free. Come now. Tell me all you know and you shall be free of all the sorrows you now bear. Let me help you."

"For the truth shall set me free!" said Coralie now louder in reply. She looked up at Ôlchir who again nodded his assent and suddenly she felt as though scales fell from her eyes. No longer did he appear as the kindly, old man whom she had thought, but instead he almost appeared as a viper preparing to strike. There was a hidden power within him that she had completely overlooked before and now she could see what he truly was. She knew the truth.

"I will tell you nothing!" Coralie stated with firm resolve.

The old man's head snapped back and his eyes gleamed with a brittle quality as he beheld her anew. The spell he had cast over her will had been broken. But how? What power could withstand him? His eyes swept over her as he sought to find some source of power upon her person, but found nothing. She was indeed a mere maiden and the explanation for her ability to withstand him was not forthcoming. Any patience he had assumed until now, evaporated as he rose to his feet.

"Guards!" he cried. At once, two guards swept into the room in response to the authority of his call.

"Now, woman," snarled Ôlchir as he turned towards Coralie with uncompromising menace. He grasped her face with his hand as he drew her up, and held her face close to his as he searched her eyes. "I do not know what power you possess that has enabled you to resist my charms. I have been patient thus far with you, but now my patience has run out. There are other methods I can employ which will loosen your tongue and I can assure you that they are most unpleasant. Now for the last time, I shall ask you to tell me what you know of the Quest. Where are they taking the Ring?"

"I will tell you nothing!" gasped Coralie as his fingernails raked the side of her face.

"No? We shall see," sneered Ôlchir as he nodded to the guards who took hold of her arms roughly. He held her eyes for a moment longer before he dropped his hand to pick up his goblet. Taking a sip he studied her over the rim of the cup with cool derision.

"Who are you?" she asked, finally ackowledging the doubts that had assailed her since their first meeting.

"Who am I?" the old man laughed aloud, startling Coralie with the sudden change in his demeanour. Just as abruptly, he stopped and advanced toward her then lowered his head until he was but a few inches from her face. Coralie recoiled at the venom she saw reflected in his eyes, but was held fast by the two guards.

"I am Saruman!" he announced. "Take her to the dungeon."

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