Disgrace - Chapter 9

End of Chapter 8

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.

Chapter 9

Morgoth was stood by his horse. A fire was beside him, raging and crackling. The elf's eyes were fixed on Arden.

The sword had not left its place by his ear and the elf behind him had not said a word since they had turned to go to the center of the camp.

Morgoth's eyes smoldered into a void of black, piercing Arden's mind. The cold clear voice echoed suddenly through the Mirkwood elf's mind.

Where were you going, messenger?

The scornful words sunk in with dull, cruel pain. This dull pain spread through Arden's head. His head felt on the verge of exploding.

ANSWER!

The words were louder and the throbbing flared and increased. It was so strong that the elf fell to his knees. Khelekiâ kept his eyes fixed on Arden.

The dark elf had entered his mind even more and the invasion created more pain for the young elf. Nothing seemed to exist except the minds locked in each other.

Answer! What were you doing?

Arden groaned and tried to speak but he couldn't. His thoughts were lost in a sea of pain and he couldn't speak. All he could do was think.

-Please... Stop...
- I will stop when you answer.
- I can't...
- I have not trusted you and I won't ever trust you. Shall I assume that you were making a run for it?

The voice was no longer clear. Everything was fuzzy. Arden couldn't think. His body was transfused with pain and he couldn't move. His breathing became difficult and his mind was weakening. Khelekiâ was all around. He could perceive everything hidden in Arden. As his mind began to be submerged, Arden started to lose sight of his surroundings. He was fading out of Middle Earth and darkness was gathering around him. Suddenly Morgoth released his mind and in that moment, Arden fell to the ground. Life faded out of him and he left his body.

The lifeless corpse lying there, Morgoth took a flaming stick from the fire and held it to the body, willing it to light. The flames seized of the body and it was engulfed in fire.

************************

Gaelen was taken to his room immediately by some elves. His sisters tried to take care of his injuries. They were fussing over him like a child.

"- You silly elf. You should be more careful.
- Very true, Aylia, dear. Gaelen has always been prone to injury.
- But, sisters, I was attacked... Stop fussing!"

The two sisters were quite unimpressed with the story of the attack on the hunting party. They proceeded to wrap all his injuries and even ordered him to bed. They didn't care if the Dark Lord himself came: he was going to bed!

Meanwhile, the palace around them went into frenzy. The king ordered the army to get prepared and the armory was opened. Weapons were handed out and the women and children were ordered into the hidden rooms in the depths of the cave-palace.

The doors were shut and all the stores of food were closed away to prepare for siege.

********************************

Brunwen slumped on the ground. Beron knelt by her, speechless. She seemed so fearful and fragile. Something was terrifying her and he could not do anything to help. He had never before been around an elf and understood very little about them.

She sat up slowly staring out into the moonlight distance. She stood up, facing the forest. The princess picked up her sword and started to walk. Beron watched her climb lightly over the fence. He knelt there for a moment longer and then rose, grabbing his sword. He sprinted up to the fence and vaulted over it. Beron hurried to Brunwen's side and grabbed her arm.

" Where are you going?"

The elf maiden shook off his hand and kept walking. Her eyes were glistening with tears. Her mind was in a shock, whirling over the sudden realization of the threat on Mirkwood.

Khelekiâ! How could her mind have connected him to her dreams? Wasn't he just a remnant from her past? He no longer was part of the life of Mirkwood... or was he? He would have been gone but now... He was back!

Her mind was traveling back to the earlier years of her life. Khelekiâ had lived in Mirkwood. He had seemed to be one of the best supporters of the King but in secret, he was ruling the Moriquendi who lived in the Ered Mithrin. The Dark Elf, even then, had seemed to have strange abilities and was there to gather information. Brunwen had been close to him and she knew a lot of his mind.

She stopped suddenly. Beron caught with her.

" -What is wrong?
- Death is coming to Mirkwood. My people, my family...
- What do you mean?
- Khelekiâ."

The name sent a shiver down Beron's spine and he suddenly had a strange vision of an elf. The elf was dark and shadowed, undoubtedly Khelekiâ.

" Brunwen, it is late. You should return to your bed."

Brunwen nodded slowly and handed her sword to Beron. He refused to take it. It was hers to keep he reminded her. She nodded again and turned to walk to the hut.

Beron watched her enter the hut and then he cast a glance back towards the ever-present forest. Under the eaves of the forest, on the other side, a battle was ready to begin.

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