Disgrace - Chapter 16
Khelekiâ's Moriquendi had camped not far from the walls of the Mirkwood palace. They had posted guards all around. A black tent occupied a central position and in it, Khelekiâ Morgoth was seated on a stool.
He had been feeling more and more threatened in the last day. His mind's eye was roving over the surrounding forest, looking for the power threatening his domination of Mirkwood and Thranduil.
His army had regrouped and had laid camp a little ways from their `prey'. The captains couldn't explain what had went wrong and had all gone back to their tents with unbearable headaches. However they all knew that two generals might get much worse should they show up.
Khelekiâ Morgoth suddenly sensed the shield go up around the path. He knew then. He knew who was coming.
And now fear was coursing through each and every vein in his body.
Even though Khelekiâ knew who it was who threatened his power, he tried to break the shield. He had to know what was happening. However, as he had expected, the shield held.
An unfortunate messenger came to his tent and trembling told him that a company of seven elves and one man had arrived at the King's palace and been admitted into the fortress. The messenger breathed his last a few moments later.
Khelekiâ knew that the end of his dream of possessing Mirkwood had come.
If only she had stayed away... If only... , he thought. It was too late to change the present. An attack on Mirkwood would fail but he had to try. He left his tent and with a few words, had his entire army moving again towards the fortress of his enemy.
As the Moriquendi messenger had told his master, the company had arrived. The doors were immediately opened and they dismounted in the entrance. The five elves who had accompanied Gaelen took their leave and went to their rooms to recover from the speedy ride.
Suddenly, like a crash of thunder, the shield Brunwen had woven failed. The air around the palace suddenly felt empty and the path was no longer safe. They had just barely made it. But the shield hadn't failed because of Khelekiâ's probing but because it had run out of energy from Brunwen.
The princess felt the shield fail and acknowledged it in the back of her mind. Beron was standing there in shock and fear. He had probably never seen so many elves in all his life. She went over to him and, smiling, reminded him in a whisper to not stare so openly. He looked at her and smiled feebly, his mind trying hard to take in everything around him.
Gaelen had stood there patiently waiting for the princess to come but finely, losing patience, inquired:
"- How long do you intend to keep King Thranduil waiting?
- Forgive me. I am coming now. Should Beron come?
- He's your escort. You may as well decide."
She nodded to Beron and they proceeded in silence to the throne room. It was empty of people expect Thranduil who was seated stiffly upon his throne. His eyes were on a wall hanging. He seemed to hardly notice them. However, Brunwen did not wait at the door. She walked across the room and seeing her, Thranduil rose slowly. He stared at his daughter, standing there silent before him. Last time he had seen her, he had banished her but now she had returned.
He hesitated and then lifting his hand, he took her hand in his and drew her nearer. She looked questioning. Then, forgetting all propriety, he hugged her, a small tear coursed down his cheek. She drew back and cautiously spoke.
"- Father, I have returned against your command for banishment. This is because I had no wish for your realm to be destroyed by Khelekiâ Morgoth The Black King of the Moriquendi. He may well have strange - let us call them `abilities' - abilities that shall be a great threat to your realm. I can stop him but to do so, I must have leave to challenge him to a single combat. There is no other way for me to defeat him. I cannot defeat him during a battle, because then I would have need to concern myself with other threats as well."
She fell silent. Her speech had had a strange effect on her father. He had turned rather white. Suddenly, an elf ran into the room.
" They are coming, sire!"
He left almost promptly and the King looked stricken with more fear than even before. Brunwen looked at him for a moment and then turned and marched out.
Khelekiâ was seated on his horse in the front row of his army. They had lined up silently and now they waited for his orders. He was about to order them to prepare to charge. They had to get up to the doors with the battering ram made up of one huge tree trunk. But before he said one single word, the doors opened.
A golden haired figure, clad in a golden and white dress, straight-backed, walked straight towards them. The elf maid had no sword and no armed retinue around her. The Mirkwood elves stood orderly in the entrance of their fortress, silent and fearful.
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