Lily of Gondolin - Chapter Seven: Memories of Pain
Recap: Taurion and Morien have gotten out of Gorthuar's land. They are nearing Brethil. Morien has agreed to tell her story.
There are ghosts from my past
Who've owned more of my soul
Than I thought I had given away,
And they linger in closets,
And under my bed,
And in pictures less proudly displayed.....
...Hung my head in shame
And refused to take blame
For the darkness I know I've let win.
--J. Knapp, Martyrs and Thieves
Taurion took a seat a few feet away, and I stared into the fire for a moment before I began. There were so many things that I would rather forget.
"It starts, I suppose, in Gondolin. My name was Indil; I had one brother, Linedhel, and my younger sister Calien. I learned healing from my mother, and Atar knew some of every craft. Linedhel taught me how to fight. And so I became the healer for a scouting band. That is when the spell was cast to make me look like an ellon to orcs. My parents and Linedhel and I all put power into it. They did not want any enemies my group encountered to target me. Calien was barely more than an infant then.
"So one day my scout group went far beyond the city, to the north, and we were ambushed. About a third of us were killed. The rest were taken to Minas Tirith." I kept my voice calm, even remembering that horrible march. I had been so terrified. Arindo, who'd always been the joker of the band, had tried to cheer us up, but - I blocked out the memory the orcs beheading him in front of us.
"We were taken to Minas Tirith," I continued tonelessly. "Gorthaur tried to make us reveal the location of Gondolin. None of us did." I took a deep breath. "Perhaps that is the only thing I did not fail. And so he killed us, one by one, until only I was left. I wanted to die," I said softly. "I wanted to die so much, to be free of the pain. But Gorthuar had another purpose for me. I was tortured till I was in a hair's breadth of passing to Mandos, of release. But just barely not enough. I was almost utterly crushed, and the agony was so intense that I could not think. I've wished so much that I died then, not just to be free." By then my voice was barely more than a whisper. "But wishing is useless."
The scars on my back began to ache dully. I'd learned to ignore then, but remembering brought back the pain. "And through it all I was horribly frightened. I knew that Gorthuar had a use for me - if he had not I would have been dead like the others. And so he did. But it was worse than what I imagined.
"I told you that I was near death, my mind weakened. Gorthuar was able to force a spell on me, to place a hold on my very soul. I knew what was happening as he did it, and I clung to a shred of my own thoughts, of my own being, so that I knew who I was and what I did.
"Can you begin to realize what it is to have your free will stripped away from you? To know what you are doing but be unable to alter it?" Taurion wordlessly shook his head.
"And so Gorthaur took me in his service. Look." I rolled up my right sleeve. Taurion moved closer, and his eyes widened. Burned into the skin on the inside of my forearm was the Iron Crown. I looked at it for a moment, and then pulled down my sleeve, covering Morgoth's emblem where it was seared into my being. "Gorthaur must have thought that the pain erased my memories of Gondolin, for he ceased to question me. Instaed he had me trained, trained to be his assassin, to murder quietly and quickly in the shadows.
" I don't know why he chose me out of all the others, but he did. I knew all the time, I knew what I was doing, but I could not disobey him. I killed whomever he told me to. So many," I said softly. "It went on for so long, and I was too weak to break from Gorthaur's spell. I knew it, I saw what I had become, and I could not stop it. I failed my people and myself." I spread my hands in front of me, palms up, small and fairskinned and scarred. "I look at my hands and see them covered in blood." I looked at them, and then went on. Taurion listened, as he had the whole time, with an expression somewhere between pain and something I could not identify.
"And so it went on, but the free part of my mind slowly grew stronger, and very gradually Gorthaur's hold on me weakened. I don't know why; perhaps he just assumed that I was subject to his will. I found the passages, but they were useless. He still held me bound.
"Until he ordered me to kill the son of Tuor. Earendil, a child of eight summers. Gorthaur told me to seek him out by the Mouth of Sirion, and kill him." I looked directly at Taurion for the first time since beginning my story. "I said no. The revulsion in the free part of my mind was so great that his hold broke, or else the Valar gave me strength. I told him he could torment me until the end of Arda, and I would not submit to him again. But it was far too late. I have slain so many others. I am a murderer. I killed those who fight the darkness. I am a creature of the darkness, and that I cannot change."
I finished, and sat in silence. I was considering the strange relief that came with telling my story when Taurion did something very unexpected.
He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly. "I'm sorry, Mor - Indil," he said softly. "I am so sorry."
To my own suprise I didn't pull away. The last time anyone had held me was, I realized, when Linedhel had given me a quick embrace and kiss on the cheek before that last scouting trip. When I was Indil.
"I'm still Morien," I said quietly when Taurion released me. "Not Indil. Not anymore. And that is why
I cannot go home."
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