Lily of Gondolin - Chapter Three: The Spell
All you who sleep tonight,
Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right,
And emptiness above,
Know that you're not alone,
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.
--Vikram Seth, All You Who Sleep Tonight.*
"We'll reach the armoury in a moment," I whispered. "We need weapons, and getting out will be much easier with orc gear."
"I don't see how either of us could pass for orcs," Taurion muttered back.
"It's a spell," I replied softly. "Like the one that makes me look like an ellon* to orcs, only different. This one will last a short time and has to be maintained. The other was cast at one time, to last." And then I had Amme and Ada and Linedhel to give power, I thought. Now I'm alone. I just hope I can keep it up. If not.........
I reached the armoury spyhole and looked through. No one was there, just a torch flickering by the door.
I remembered that this exit worked differently, and traced the carvings in the stone, deciphering them by touch. It was the crest of Finarfin, a blossom upheld by two serpents. My fingertips resting on the flower's center I pressed lightly, chanting the spell. The stone opened like a door, swinging out on silent and unseen hinges.
It took my eyes a moment to adjust to the dim torchlight. Once they had, I turned to the weapon racks. I would've liked to have taken my own sword, but that would involve retrieving it from a different armoury, and its absence might have been noticed.
I lifted two orc-swords, and handed one to Taurion. They were both heavy blades of a rough dark iron, hideous but serviceable. I took a black sheath down from a hook and slid the sword into it. After adjusting the straps I swung the it across my back, with the hilt resting at my right shoulder. Taurion fastened his similarly, but with the sword-hilt on his left.
I took a ragged black cloak from a peg, and a helm and shield from a pile by the door. The armour was emblazoned with the Iron Crown, Morgoth's standard. I shuddered with distaste, but put on the cloak and helmet. Taurion was about to follow my example when we heard the tread of feet approaching.
In the silence the soft sound was loud, echoing in my memory. Footsteps, coming nearer, I couldn't see, I couldn't move, he was coming, there was nothing I could do.........I froze, my mind going blank in the horrible memory that sound brought to light.
I was alone, and afraid, so terribly afraid. Chained in a stone cell, I knew that all the others were dead. I wished that I was, too. I was spared, of all the company.........What was Sauron going to do to me? Or with me? I heard a tread, approaching in the darkness, drawing nearer as I cowered back against the cold, hard wall. No......oh, Eru, no.........Not him .....Not that.....
"Morien!" Taurion shook me, hard, and my mind snapped back to the present. I remembered where I was, what I was doing. I was finally leaving Tol-en-Gaurhoth. Or at least, I was trying.
I darted back into the passage, and he quickly followed. I pulled the door to, and whispered the closing chant; this door took a particularly long one. "For walking unseen, I thank you; for the passage in safety wrought by my people I give thanks; and now I say to you; be closed." The door sealed shut a fraction of an instant before two orcs entered the room. They began to root about, arguing. It looked as if they would be there for some time.
"Come," I whispered, and set off down the passage. Once we were safely out of earshot, I stopped. "I am going to disguise us now. There is a gate a short way from the next door. It will be harder since you do not have orc gear." I handed Taurion the helm. Apprehension was again twisting in my stomach. I had not used this spell in many, many years, and then it had been just on myself or sharing the burden with someone else. I didn't know how long I would be able to keep it up; even then it was draining. Now.......I took a deep breath, dismissing the possibility. "We need to get out as quickly as possible. I will not be able to hold the spell for long." Taurion nodded, and I took another deep breath. Releasing it, I placed my hand on his temples and began to chant.
"By the power
Over form and face and hue
That is in me,
By the light of star and faded Tree,
By the power of the Valar,
And the light of Sun and Moon,
May we be granted other forms
In which to pass unseen.
May Eru's blessing follow us,
and may we pass through, free."
I opened my eyes, and saw that Taurion was gone. In his place was an Orc, and from that I knew that my own appearance was also changed. Now I just had to keep them that way.
I pulled the hood of my orc-cloak over my face to shadow myself as much as possible, and lifted the shield. I started to walk down the passage to the next door, my mind almost completely focused on holding the spell.
Reaching the door, looked through the spyhole and found the corridor it led to deserted. I whispered the opening spell, struggling to hold it and the disguises. The door opened, and we stepped out. I sealed the opening behind us, and set off down the corridor, Taurion close behind.
I turned right, down a flight of steps. They had been beautiful, once, I think, carved with the shapes of trees and flowers. But now they were blackened, marred and broken, gouged with the orcs' crude graffiti. All of Minas Tirith* was like that. Glimmers of past light and beauty just barely detectable, the light almost completely stifled in the darkness.
There were two torches flickering at the base of the steps. Beyond them was an iron grille that led out onto a path. Following it on the edge if the cliff one could reach the bridge, which I prayed to Eru we would be able to cross.
As Taurion and I reached the foot of the stars a guard appeared from the shadows. "What's your business?"
My mind half on the spell, I answered. "We're to look for one of those Elf spies, curse them. You'd best not talk to your mates about it, though. The boss likes to keep these things quiet."
The Orc sneered. "Oh? And why is that?"
The pause before I replied was just an instant too long. "He doesn't want anyone to know the Elves are a problem. We are meant to think that Morgoth has it all in hand." I felt the spell falter and yanked it back into place. I couldn't think of plausible explanations and hold the disguises at the same time.
The Orc seemed to apprehend my strain, and he curled his lip, enjoying his power. "And what would you be knowing of it? The Dark Lord will smash those puny Elves, flower-blood.* I was given orders not to let anyone out this way. That includes you."
I couldn't keep this up. The spell was draining my strength faster than I had feared it would. There was no way to convice the Orc in time. So I turned away, reaching for the dagger in my sleeve. The Orc thought I was dissuaded, and also turned away, back to his post. I whipped around as he did so, and plunged my dagger into his back. It was slightly off target; the Orc lived long enough to drive his spiked and armoured elbow into my left side with crushing force.
It did not pierce my skin, but on top of the bruises already there it was excruciating. I gasped in pain, and the disguises began to evaporate. I struggled to pull myself together, and was just barely able to wrench them back.
Taurion caught the Orc's body as it began to fall, anticipating the clatter it would make. I pulled my dagger out of its back, and between us we slid the carcass into a shadowed corner. It might not be noticed for some time.
All the while I held the spell firm. It was taking a greater toll on me than I had expected. Gorthaur's will was settled over Tol-en-Gaurhoth like an all-pervasive malevolent cloud, and working magic underneath is unbeknownst to him was draining my strength, which was already reduced by my injuries. Exhaustion was tugging at my mind, and we were not even out of the fortress. I pushed away the fatigue growing on me and concentrated on the spell. I would not let it fail.
*(1) I apologize if this poem is a little off - I couldn't find the book and was just writing it from memory.
*(2) Ellon is Elvish for male Elf.
*(3) Minas Tirith in Gondor was not built for a very long time after this story takes place. The one refered to in this chapter was built by Finrod Felagund on Tol Sirion, later Tol-en-Gaurhoth. It was captured by Sauron, and became one of Morgoth's outposts. It was later destroyed by Luthien.
*(4) To an Orc, calling someone "Flower-blood" is a great insult.
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