Disgrace - Chapter One
Brunwen looked back again and saw, even through her keen elven eyes, nothing but dark trees all around. She had been walking for hours, longer than she would count. The elf-maid dropped to the ground where she had stood. It was growing dark and she wouldn't go further this evening. No food, no water, nothing... The elves had driven her away with nothing.
This was so so unfair! They had been kinder to that Gollum creature... And he had been worse than me she thought.
Alone, she was so alone... The dark became so murky dark that she curled up and closed her eyes, ignoring the grumbling stomach that wasn't used to short commons.
The long night passed swiftly and the little light that could break through the canopy of the trees of Mirkwood seeped through. She uncurled slowly like a cat and brushed her long golden hair away from her face. She stood up slowly and started walking again.
Brunwen could remember what happened clearly. She wasn't guilty and she knew who was, but it was her word against theirs.
She had walked into the cellar, looking for a hiding place from a suitor. The two elves were standing over a body. It was Gallior, the chief cook and she almost screamed. The two had turned and saw her. They grabbed her and knocked her on the head... All had gone black and when the mist cleared, she was surrounded by guards and covered in blood.
But now, she wasn't sure. Had she really seen the other two? Her memories are so fragmented...
She walked on, hunger pulling at her insides and thirsty. She hoped to make the bridge by the end of the day. She hoped and stumbled on.
Gaelen woke early that morning. Jumping up, he went to the great hall. He went about his duties and as the day went by, he chanced to see the elves that had found the princess over Gallior's dead body. They were speaking in a dark corner and his curiosity drew him to come near them. They were speaking in low voices and he heard certain comments that made him more suspicious of them. From that moment forth, he spent as much time watching them as he could without suspicion.
Now, the winter feast had had to be cancelled because of Gallior's death and Thranduil was most irritated by this. The feast had always been an important event and often a secret and favorite recipe was used for the masterpiece of the feast. All this was not to be for the first year since Thranduil's reign had begun and many were more concerned about this than about the actual death. Many did not believe that Gallior was truly dead because he had a history of disappearing when he was insulted or angered by someone. The body had been buried in a quiet fashion and the event could no longer be spoken of as Brunwen was not to be spoken of.
So Gaelen shadowed the two elves, veterans and respected soldiers, named Soros and Mornuil. One evening, he overheard this conversation.
"- What shall we do now? The plan is ruined.
- How was I to know that his death would cancel the feast?
- Don't be a half-wit! What other elf knows the secrets of the feast? There is a reason he was head-cook.
- I heard of none. His food choked me. Anyhow, what time will we overthrow the vile elf?
- When we have an army outside the gate!
-What army... Do you mean them?
- Yes! They will help... But we must know if we have allies among these. We will see to that first."
At that, the two separated and went their own ways.
Brunwen reached the bridge and ran across it. Finally, she had made it but her tiredness had made the journey last longer than normal. She looked around the murk and hurried on. She would find someway to take her revenge on the elves that had put her in this desolate situation. She didn't know where to go but she knew that nothing could hurt her as long as she did not stray from the path.
She longed for something to eat, to be able to lie on a comfortable bunk and sleep. Brunwen's gown was now torn and she had hitched it up so that her feet would not trip over the thick material. She had tied her hair into a tight braid that morning and strands fell all about her face by the time she reached the bridge. An elf may have great resistance to hardships but she was not trained and had not eating in some three days perhaps. She could not remember how long she had been walking but she knew that she was exhausted.
She dragged herself along the smooth path until she could no longer see. When the light vanished, she dropped to the ground and slept where she had stood.
Brunwen was weak and slept so deeply that when the sun rose, she did not move. So she slept for a day.