Disgrace - Chapter 8
Suddenly, her elfin mind perceived a shadow in the distance. She sensed the Moriquendi's approach on Mirkwood but Brunwen could not understand what the threat was. She frowned but went to bed, hoping that nothing ill would come of this.
She was running, running... through the forest. Strange beasts all around. Black darkness! Death coming to her people and she was falling, falling. Falling down a dark hole into cold freezing water. The water's iron grip seized her and...
She woke and she knew that something was wrong.
The doors banged loudly against the walls. The King looked up at the intrusion and the guards turned. Gaelen stood there, soiled and bloody from his flight from the ambush. He staggered into the room, exhausted and injured.
" The Moriquendi are coming!" he whispered hoarsely.
An elf near him heard and repeated the statement loudly. Thranduil rose to his feet and raised his hand, commanding silence in one gesture. He walked down the hall and stopped in front of Gaelen. The tired elf looked up and the king saw the truth and fear in the elf's eyes.
He turned and in a calm voice, declared into the stony silence.
" We must be prepared for this. I want to have the army ready for war. The palace must be ready for a siege."
Immediately, the elves scurried about in a frenzy to prepare for war.
The Moriquendi army was within a day of the palace. They had travelled day and night, having no need for rest. They had passed as a cloud of gloom and the peoples of the Lonely Mountain and Dale cowered in their homes, fearing something they knew not. The army was now at the mouth of the river and was marching speedily towards the palace. The silent force destroyed the villages along the river. They camped merely a league from the palace in utter darkness and Khelekiâ sent scouts out to check where the vanguard was.
Arden dismounted slowly and walked to the edge of the camp. He had to get out of there. He had to warn someone. The savage and brutal killing of the village dwellers had made him sick. He couldn't think of this happening to his friends or family. He was almost to the edge when a young elf stepped in front of him, frowning, his arms crossed.
"- Where are you going?
- Morgoth wishes to speak to you."
Arden nodded and turned, the cold point of a sword suddenly resting by his ear. He gulped and walked towards the centre of the camp.
Brunwen carefully edged off her bed and picked up her sword. She walked out silently and went to the exercise ring that had been made the day before. She noticed the silver gleam of the moon reflecting on the blade in her hand.
"How unnatural... Such a beautiful thing, yet so deadly... I can't understand how such a combination can be..."
The thoughtful whisper slipped away into the night. She walked to the side of the ring and carefully swung herself over the waist-high barrier. She then went into the centre and started practicing the unfamiliar moves. She didn't notice Beron standing by the nearest cabin.
She feinted right, and then left. Moving with all the swiftness she could muster, the princess defended herself from an imaginary foe. Suddenly, she slipped on the soft grass and fell on her side. Her sword slipped from her hand and fell a silently as she did. Beron shook his head and walked up to the ring.
Brunwen noticed the motion but before she could react, Beron was there beside her, his hand held out. She took it and he pulled her up. The elf-maiden backed away from him and picked up the sword. The man hesitated and then said in a quiet voice.
"- You need to work on some of your technique. You leave your side unprotected and if someone were to even gesture towards your legs, you would fall over.
- I was not bred to be a fighter!"
Her eyes brightened with her fury. The princess raised her sword `en garde' and waited. Beron unsheathed his own sword and within minutes, they were fighting again. Swords flashed and clanged in the eerie moonlight, a distant echo of the events in the forest glade in Mirkwood. They fought in silence and no one in the village stirred. The princess slipped again and found herself faced with the point of Beron's sword. She lay on her back in silent fury.
"- You won.
- You slipped, elf-maid. No glory to me."
She glared at him silently and abruptly; a waking dream seized her mind.
Again... falling... the cold icy water and then the terrible dark... And a face... Khelekiâ!...
Her eyes were wide open and a look of terror and shock distorted her face. Beron threw aside his sword and taking her shoulders, shook her. And as swiftly as the dream had come, it was gone and she stared in utter horror into the eyes of the young man.