Arvariane Estel - Chapter 5 - Dark Fear: Part 1
The Orc Dens, below the Redhorn, Misty Mountains
The foul smell of rotten flesh woke Ariane for a start. Feeling cold stone against her cheek, her eyes flickered open, her vision blurred as she attempted to sit up. Where am I?
"Oomph!" Ariane wheezed as she slid back to the ground in a heap.
Her head began to throb as she felt blood trickle down from a raw ache in her arm. Her whole body felt like rock as she tried moving again. What happened? As Ariane became more aware of her surroundings, she realised she was in a cell of some sort. She then remembered...
The entourage of Rivendell had already travelled three days from the Forests of Lothlorien and was a day from the other side of Caradhras, also known as the Redhorn, and three days from home, Rivendell. That evening they had come to a large cavern opening up into the mountainside along the main path that looked out over a long canyon running through the Misty Mountains. The night had just begun to get cold as a light sprinkle of snow began to fall on the already lightly covered mountain pass of the Redhorn, as Varyarsere, captain of the Rivendell guard sent out sentries to watch the mountainside.
Still dressed in her travel wear, cloak and armed with her favoured weapons, Earth's Wrath and Starlight, Ariane had nestle herself near the edge of the cavern opening and looked across the canyon to see the moonlight of the full moon dance across the jagged peaks and crevasses of the mountains, creating beautiful, yet menacing shadows. A gentle breeze flowed through the cavern as Ariane sensed small delicate footsteps come up behind her.
"Ariane, dear, may I ask you a personal question?" Lady Celebrìan said gently, as she sat next to her near the edge, dressed in the dress in the silver of the Galadhrim.
"Of course, my lady. What troubles you?"
"Nothing troubles me, my dear," Lady Celebrìan replied. "But I have not had a chance to talk to you about you and my son, Elrohir."
Ariane felt her ears heat up in embarrassment. Luckily it is dark enough to hide it, she thought. "What about Elrohir and me?" she asked nervously.
"I sense you both have a close relationship," Lady Celebrìan observed. Ariane then saw a smile spread across her face. "Even though my son does not say anything, I can tell he is very taken by you."
"My lady, we have been friends for a long time..." Ariane began.
"Which is why I am happy he is interested in you and not some strange being," Lady Celebrìan smiled. "I am glad Elrohir has chosen you, but be wary of the future Ariane. Things may change."
"How so? If you believe I may hurt your son, I swear on my mother's grave I will not."
"It is not that Ariane. I know you would never hurt Elrohir intentionally, nor will he ever hurt you. But my heart tells me that circumstances ..."
Suddenly a loud cry echoed through the mountains. "ORCS!" one of the sentry guardians shouted at the top of his lungs.
In moments, another cry echoed, this time an Orc war cry. Lady Celebrìan and Ariane automatically grabbed onto each other for protection. The guardians of Lorien and Rivendell rushed for the two she-elves and pulled them further back into the cavern.
"My ladies! We must get you to safety!" Menel ordered softly, his sword drawn.
"Where are they?" Lady Celebrìan asked quickly, as she drew a small dagger from the delicate leather belt she was wearing.
"They are coming towards us from the Eastern pass, so we still have time to escape to the west."
"Can we outrun them on horseback?" Ariane suggested, as she drew her blade knife, Starlight.
"The pass is too narrow, so it is impossible to escape quickly by horseback. We must hurry now and leave the horses!"
Menel and 4 other guardians gently pulled Lady Celebrìan and Ariane along the narrow pass up towards the peak of the mountain. "We must get to the top end of Caradhras and cross North-West into the Hollin Valley. From there we can escape."
The five guardians surrounded the two she-elves, as they made their way up the narrow pass towards a peak on Caradhras. The echoes of the fallen guardians reverberated up the mountainside; soon drowned out by the cries of orcs, as a tear escape Ariane. As they ascended the mountain into the West, they came to a flat ridge when Menel stopped dead in his tracks.
"They are blocking the pass to Hollin," Menel cursed, as he pointed up to more flame torches coming towards them in the distance. "We must head back down towards Fanuidhol."
He then guided them across the ridge, back into the East towards the peak of the mountain Fanuidhol. The moonlight lit the way brightly, making it difficult for the remaining entourage to hide. As they approached the valley before the peak of Fanuidhol, Lady Celebrìan shrieked.
"Ahh!" she screamed and fell backwards, an arrow lodged in her shoulder.
"Lady Celebrìan!" Ariane cried, as she went to her friend's mother side.
"They are blocking the Eastern Pass!" Menel shouted, as he instantly began to back track his way up from the valley.
Two guardians quickly aided Lady Celebrìan, following Menel, Ariane and the rest of the guardians back onto the ridge, heading to a warren of jagged rocks dimly lit along the mountainside.
Making their way through the maze, they could hear the orc party following close behind. Lady Celebrìan could not help but cry softly in pain.
"My lady, you must be as quiet as possible," Menel hushed softly. "I know how much it hurts, but please bear with it. There should be a crossing along the cliff face of Caradhras up here." Nodding, Lady Celebrìan used up what adrenaline she had left.
The entourage continued to move as fast as they could, until they came to the opening that revealed the cliff face crossing. Wasting no time, Menel led the group in a single file across the passage. Another loud Orc war cry reverberated through the mountains as the remaining entourage reached the other end, greeted once again by a labyrinth of jagged rocks. Once everyone had crossed, they continued to move up and around the mountain into the West, Orcs still behind them, when another Orc war cry came from in front of them. Stopping dead in their tracks, the entire entourage froze.
"By the seas and the stars, we are trapped," Menel cursed, as the sounds of orcs came closer and closer from both ends, their torches beginning to light up the maze. The entire entourage looked about frantically for an escape, but found only the shadows of the jagged rocks that would condemn them.
At that moment, Lady Celebrìan fell to her knees, her adrenaline rush coming to an end.
"Lady Celebrìan!" Ariane whispered frantically, as she shook her friend's mother. "Please wake up!"
"Sir, we must put ourselves against the mountain," Linirel, a guardian of Rivendell suggested. "It is our only chance to defend ourselves against these creatures."
"Aye! We will defend ourselves to last elf," Menel agreed.
Menel then helped Ariane pull Lady Celebrìan's unconscious body towards the cliff face of Caradhras and behind the defending guardians. Ariane then drew her long sword, Earth's Wrath from its scabbard behind her.
"Arvariane, we must protect you and her ladyship at all costs," Menel commanded.
"And I am to protect Lady Celebrìan," Ariane argued, as she readied herself. "I would rather die trying than not at all."
In moments, a swarm of orcs their disfigured faces lit dimly by the flame torches, gathered in front of the remaining guardians and silence fell upon the entire mountainside. The defenders of Rivendell and Lorien gripped their weapons even tighter, ready for the on coming attack. An ear piercing Orc cry then went up and in seconds, the elves had engaged in battle, jabbing, stabbing and slicing through the pressing enemy.
But the Orcs were too many and soon the elf guardians had fallen, Menel of Lorien with them. Ariane was the only elf remaining still beheading and slaying any orc that came near herself and Lady Celebrìan. Cut, bleeding bruised and battered, her defences failed the moment she felt a throbbing coming from her temple. Dropping her weapons, she fell weakly to the ground in pain, the last thing she saw, Lady Celebrìan being dragged off the snow by orcs...
A painful shriek came from outside her cell door, snapping her back into reality. Laboriously turning her head, Ariane focused on the entrance of her cell. The cell was dark save the light of flame torches coming through the slit at the bottom of the door. She heard a distant unlatching of a door and the squeaking of the hinges. Moments later, the slam of a heavy door sounded, then three sets of footsteps began approaching her cell door.
All of a sudden her cell door swung open, Ariane blinded by the flame of the torches. Squinting, she could just make out three figures to be orcs approach her.
The taller orc bent down to Ariane's face, his foul breathe filling Ariane's lungs like poison. "Drag her to the chamber!"
In seconds, she felt a pang of pain shoot up her arm and whined in agony, as two orcs grabbed her by the shoulders and began dragging her out of her cell. Ariane tried to struggle against the orcs carrying her, but it was useless, her arms and legs feeling like boulders, her body susceptible to the aches and pains of her wounds, drowning out everything else around her.
After being pulled down a set of stairs, she felt as if she was in thin air, before her back was slammed on a hard surface. Shrieking in pain, Ariane felt her arms being fastened firmly above her head and her ankles being bounded tightly. Trying hard to focus through her pain, Ariane's eyes adjusted to the darkness and saw an orc commander approach her, a stained knife blade in his hand.
"Well, we have another female," the orc commander hissed. "But one that is a lot younger and extra pure."
"Do you think master will be pleased?" another orc commented.
"I think he will be more than pleased." The orc commander then held a blade to her face and sliced a cut open across her left cheek. "But let us draw blood first." Ariane hissed at the pain, but did not scream. "Hmm...this one did not scream at the blade or the drawing of blood. How unusual. Tell me, she-elf? Are you not afraid of what is going to happen to you?" Ariane remained silent, a defiant look on her face. "Answer me!" the orc commander boomed in her ear, as he held the blade up to the point of her ear. "Or the tips of your earlobe will bleed."
"Nothing you do would give me the slightest inclination to be afraid of you and your inbred kind," Ariane insulted proudly.
"Inbred? My we have a defiant one here," the orc commander mocked. "Since you are disobedient, I believe we will have to teach you a lesson in obedience. Ert! Pull the rack up!"
Ariane felt her body start to tense up as the rack pulled at her arms and legs, but she refrained from screaming. She felt the tension, but held in her pain. If I scream, they will get what they want and I will not let them have it! Her thoughts raced.
"Well...this one has not screamed yet. Maybe we should go a little higher."
The rack pulled again and Ariane let out a small whimper of pain as the feeling of tightness began to affect her armpits and thighs.
"We are getting closer. Come on! One for us!" the orc commander jeered.
"I may scream in pain, but nothing in this world or the next will ever make me scream for your pleasure of my fear, you pitiful excuse for a orc!" Ariane growled.
At that moment the rack tensed even more and Ariane could not help but cry out.
"It matters not whether you scream in pain or fear. We just love the pleasure we can inflict on our ancient ancestors the hatred we have felt for millennia, " the orc commander whispered in her ear. He then sliced the delicate point on her left ear in half.
Ariane screamed an ear-piercing shriek of pain, tears streaming down her face, as that was a very receptive and important part of the elf sense. All of a sudden, she felt disoriented, her world began spinning and everything became a blur, before she blacked out unconscious.
To be continued in Part 2...