Disgrace - Chapter 4
Recap of Chapter 3
The creature, Gollum, stood up and started walking without the slightest hesitation. He turned his head after a moment and waved to her.
" Preciousss mussst come.... Sss Not sssafe alone..."
Brunwen hesitated but the thought of the spider drove her to follow the wretched creature. She stumbled on behind Smeagol and hoped that he knew where he was going.
Gaelen avoided following Mornuil for a while after the incident but took to following a friend of Soros' instead. The friend was named Bernl and was a young elf who had a few poor habits. In fact he was rather careless and had a weakness for any form of intoxicating liquor. Bernl, however, was a great warrior when not drunk and it was for that quality that his and Soros' `friendship' still endured.
The elf had been trying hard to not indulge his weakness but one afternoon, a cargo of the best wine of Esgaroth arrived. Gaelen was not far when he noticed the elf make a hurried departure from the main hall when the wine's arrival was announced. He followed the elf till the came to the very cellar by which Bilbo Baggins had escaped some 60 years or more before.
Bernl was searching the place for a goblet and Gaelen entered quietly and placed one on the table in front of Bernl.
" Can I?
- Sure. I wasn't looking for a drink...
- I... I guess I really shouldn't... You know I've tried to stop but um... the taste...
- Go ahead. No one need know. I'll make sure no one finds you."
Gaelen said it as he picked up a flagon and put it under the spout of a wine barrel. The dark liquid flowed into it and he replaced it on the table. Bernl hesitated but his greed and desire for the wine got the better of his judgment and he grabbed it eagerly and poured a large cup-full. After a gulp, he declared:
" I thank you, friend. Will you have some?"
Gaelen smiled and shook his head. Bernl mumbled something about it being his loss and downed the goblet-full. The wine acting quickly, Bernl was speaking freely of anything that Gaelen might enquire after the second glass. He was still guarded though on certain topics but a third goblet-full took care of the reservations.
" Now, friend, tell me about Soros.
- Soross, oh, he likes to stay quiet eh doesn't he... He's planning to... to overthrow Thra'b'uil. Mustn't tell thought or... or the plan goes to ruin...RUIN!"
The elf started crying at that word and Gaelen tried to comfort him as much as he could.
" Now, no ruin, alright? There will be no ruin.
- Yesss, of course... The cellar door vill make sure of dat...
- Cellar door?
- YES! Cellar door. Let the others in... they will let the others in..."
Bernl collapsed from the strength of his fifth glass and went to sleep quite deeply. Gaelen got up from the chair he had pulled up and stared for a few seconds at the cellar door. He went to it and lifted it quietly. Sticking his head down through the entrance, he saw the portcullis was up and he wondered how to lower it. He closed the door quietly and searched the cellar until he found a rope tied tightly to a ring of metal in the wall. He guessed that releasing the rope should close the portcullis and perhaps strand the `others' there when they came. He heard a bump behind him and saw that the elf had fallen onto the ground. He then overheard voices outside in the corridor and he hid behind a large barrel.
Brunwen woke again to the complete darkness of the forest and pushed herself up slowly. Gollum had gone hunting. The forest was still very dark and she hoped that she was near the end of it. Never before had she felt such dread and horror for her own forest. The two pale yellow eyes blinked into view in the distance and an instant later, the creature was beside her.
" I've found food for Preciouss. Pretty Precious... I wants you to eat... Mustn't get weak.
- Thank you, Gollum, but what is it?
- Nutsss, and rootss, dear Preciouss.
- Oh, thank you..."
She ate hungrily the nuts and roots Gollum had found. Gollum sat silently in front of her, watching her every move. It was unsettling to the elf-maiden. She ate carefully and hurriedly, trying to drop nothing. When she had finished, Smeagol stood up and started walking. She pulled herself to her feet and ran to catch up with her guide.
" Do you know where we are?
- Near the village, Preciousss. Will be there tonight... Dear Precious... You won't leave me then, Precious?
- You can stay if you wish, Gollum. I am going to learn to be a warrior there and I think the villagers will let you stay.
- Villagers hates Smeagol... Precious, they hates me. But if Precious is a warrior, then poor Smeagol stay with her.
- I'm not yet a warrior but I will be and I will kill the elves you sent me away.
- Then Smeagol help. Smeagol doesn't like elveses who hurt his Precious."
Brunwen was silent as they continued walking towards the end of the forest. She couldn't understand why Smeagol kept calling her `Precious'. Strange thing to do, she thought. He seemed to believe that she was the embodiment of `His Precious' but she did not realize this. For a moment she wished her brother were there. He would understand and he could explain it to her but no amount of wishing could make him reappear from his journey to Rivendell. She tripped over a trailing weed and Gollum hurried to her side to help her up.
" Is Precious alright? No broken boneses or sprainses?
- No, no. I'm fine. I tripped, that's all.
- Good, does Precious want to rest?
- No, I'm fine. Let's keep going.
And on they went.
Arden was led back into the caves of the elves and was taken again to the dark room. The blindfold was taken off and his eyes adjusted sharply to the dark luminosity. The dark elf stood there. He stared keenly into Arden's eyes and the young elf heard a cold voice in his mind.
You are scared, aren't you?