Mist & Shadow - Chapter 1: Escape (A Lord of the Rings parallel)

*DISCLAIMER* I neither own nor claim any of Tolkien's characters. I am merely borrowing them for my story and promise to stay true to the characters.

Chapter 1
Amarth stared with disdain at his victim of a few weeks. A small smirk made his face look demon-like. It had been a merry chase, lasting for days. It was not often his prey eluded him that long, but Amarth had promised his brother he would avenge his untimely death. A death brought upon him suddenly and unexpectedly by the defiant creature before him.

"I never break a promise, Dûriel." He reached forward to stroke her cheek possessively; his reward was a snarl and an attempt to remove several of his fingers. Amarth pulled his hand back quickly. The sharp, white teeth clipped on nothing but air.

"Orc trash," Dûriel pulled at the ropes that bound her hands. "Your brother deserved a more painful end," she spat at Armarth's feet. "He wasn't worth the steel I ran him through with and neither are you." She knew very well her bold words could get her killed. She also knew Amarth. Her cousin would not lose his temper that quickly. Even if he did, he would simply fabricate a longer, more painful torture to put her through rather than snapping her neck now and missing out on her screams later.

"Post a guard," the dark look that passed through Amarth's eyes told Dûriel all she needed to know. He would deal with her when he was ready.

* * * * *

Amarth strode leisurely back to his fire. Despite the fact his company was camped close - dangerously close - to Imladris made no difference to him. He and his men could disappear with in a minutes notice of anyone approaching. His main concern now was Dûriel.

The she-elf was strong, but he would greatly enjoy breaking her iron will. As children, they had grown up hating each other. Their parents had never understood; they did not have to. Many times, such things were encouraged in their culture. Hate led to intense competition. Competition, in turn, led to progress.

Amarth shook his head. Had he not hated her, Dûriel would have been someone he looked up to. Her agility, intelligence, and skill with weapons made her a dangerous enemy. They could have made her an indespensible ally.

"Fate is an odd thing..." he trailed off, his thoughts interrupted by a comotion to his left..

* * * * *

Dûriel stiffened at her guards approach. Lómë was a cruel elf, well known for his treatment of prisoners.

"I told you I'd one day have the pleasure of breaking you." Lómë gloated above her. Dûriel could think of nothing she would enjoy more than killing him. She watched him finger the sword hilt at his side. "A fine weapon," he commented noticing where her gaze rested. The sword belonged to her.

"You'll never have the pleasure." She swung her feet up to hit him in the back of the knee. He toppled to his knees, giving her enough of a chance to clamp her things around his throat in a death grip. "You won't live to see the moon rise tonight."

Lómë gasped for air, his fingers clawing at Dûriel's legs. He had no dagger on him, and the sword could not be pulled from it's sheath. Nor would he be able to use it if he could.

Black and red spots floated pulsingly through his vision as Dûriel tightened her hold on him. She was staring him in the eye. His violent struggles had ceased gradually with the lack of air. Thankfully, he had made no cry of alarm when she had felled him.

"Pathetic really," she muttered. "I'd have thought you would be harder to kill. It takes away all the satisfaction." She twisted around after releasing Lómë and began to slowly drag her sword from underneath him. Quiet curses accompanied the action. Her wrists chafed against the rough rope ride around them.

When she had drawn the blade out far enough, she her hands over the sword with the blade touching the rope. She moved her arms back and forth. The cutting was both clumsy and awkward but served its purpose.

Dûriel left the rope where it fell and buckled her reclaimed sword around her waist. Much to her disgust, she was forced to tighten the belt several notches before it fit comfortably. Amarth had starved her for weeks. It would have given him great pleasure to see the effects.

Sliding easily into the forest shadows, it was several minutes before she came upon the first guard. Her foot snapped a twig, alerting him to her presence.

"Too late now," she muttered. "They shouldn't have left you out here all alone, Serke." She stepped slowly from the shadows. The mid-morning sun shone through the think branches over head just enough to reveal her identity.

"How did you get free?" Serke stepped forward brandishing a dagger.

Dûriel gave him a sultry smile full of feminine charm. "I couldn't let Amarth kill me without saying goodbye." Taking advantage of his surprise, she grabbed the hand holding the dagger, pulled him forward, and kissed him soundly on the lips. She wrapped one hand around his neck, at the same time, freeing his second dagger from its sheath.

Serke never fully realized what happened. He felt a sudden, agonizing pain in his back. The light slowly faded from his eyes as he uttered a low moan and fell to his knees. Dûriel cursed. That groan would aler the whole camp. She sprinted forward, praying to whoever was listening that there was noone else to block her escape.

Several minutes passed before she heard the sounds of pursuit. She had known it would not take very long for Amarth to put the pieces together. Shouts followed her haphazard footsteps toward the River Bruinen. Skidding to a stop at the edge of a small cliff, Dûriel could see the river winding below her. They had camped closer to the border than she had thought.

"You're very clever, my dear," Amarth stpped out of the trees with one hand on his sword. He hardly seemed out of breath. "I'll have to post a better watch next time.

Dûriel could feel the empy space below her heels. The only thing that kept her from teetering backwards was her balance. "There won't be a next time."

Cold water rushed over her head and swept her down stream. She would remember the susprised look on Amarth's face for the rest of her life. He had never expected her to jump.

Her head came out of the water suddenly. Dûriel shook the water from her eyes and let the water take her where it willed for several minutes. Gradually, the current slowed due to a widening in the river bed, and her feet drug against the bottom. Dûriel stood and began sloshing toward the rocky shore. A submerged log caught her foot and sent Dûriel splashing back under the water. The she-elf sputtered ot the surface again after freeing her left.

The sound of many pounding hooves made her freeze. Amarth did not have horses with his company nor could he have arrived so quickly. Several yards downstream a white horse bearing a dark-haired she-elf and what looked like a child bounded over the small incline boardering the river and across the shallow ford. Dûriel's shock only deepened at the sight of nine riders in black.

"Nazgul," she whispered as the cold-icy fingers of fear seized her entire being. She had heard the terrible stories about theses wriaths.

Unalbe to move, Dûrile could only stand in the knee deep water, watching and hoping she was not seen by either party. If she was caught by the nine, she might be taken as a slave to Mordor. On the other hand, a Moriquendi elf caught on the borders of Imladris would raise instant suspicion and alarm.

"Take the lesser of the two evils." She was distracted from further planning by the hiss of a sword being drawn.

"Give up the hafling she-elf!" The Witch King's snake-like voice sent shivers of terror up and down Duriel's spine.

"If you want him, come and claim him!!" The strange she-elf's voice was unwaveringly defiants. The nine drew their swords as one, and, as one, prodded their black steeds forward into the water.

The she-elf lowered her sword slightly and closed her eyes. "Nin o Chithaeglir lasto beth daer; Rimmo nin Bruinin dan in Ulaer! Nin o Chithaeglir last beth daer; Rimmo nin Bruinen dan in Ulaer!" The she-elf's voice seemed to fill Dûriel's head.

The elvish chant echoed off the rocks and the cliff walls upstream. She glanced down at the water as a slight tremble in the river bed shook her slightly off balance. A low rumble could be heard and it grew louder. Dûriel turned to look upstream when the rumble grew to a roar. Her eyes widened as a white wall of water rushed toward her.

She screamed. The rushing torrent hit her like a ton of bricks. Her mouth filled with water as she was sucked down toward the bottom. The water tossed her about, breaking bones as it swept her down stream. Her head struck a large rock on the riverbed, knocking her unconscious.

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