Puppet Strings - Chapter 20
"I am not brave; in fact I am very afraid. I am sure it is very plan to you that I am." As she spoke Arahad took a step toward her, bringing her body to a tremble. He merely gave a satisfied nod to her confession. Arahad's fluttered closed briefly as he inhaled deeply and sighed. Her fear mixed with her usual sweet scent was intoxicating to the primal force within him. Arahad's actions only frightened Laurelin further.
"I don't pretend to believe I'll escape from this. So I ask you do it quickly, I cannot witness anymore death."
The fire that Arahad held in his eyes blazed when he heard her request. He was slightly taken aback by her daring and confidence. He once again took a step forward, watching her entire body tremble once again at the impending danger of his closeness. He stood now but inches away from Laurelin. His eyes wandered the depths of hers as he drew closer. As if a gesture of how close he was to touching her, Arahad blew a small breath from his lips, letting it rustle a few strands of hair that hung at the side of Laurelin's fair face. It was this that caused the princess to bite her bottom and a single tear roll down her cheek. Laurelin sighed and successfully choked back a sob.
"Let the truth be known, if my life must be taken by someone else's hands, I would choose your hands to do the taking." Laurelin whispered softly so that only Arahad's ears could hear. Her eyes never left his steady gaze as she spoke. She wasn't speaking to the murdering monster that was standing before her, her whispered words spoke only to the man she hoped to be buried beneath the killer.
Arahad remained silent, letting her words echo through his mind. He felt something pull at him, something in his chest. The smile that had never left his smirking lips finally did as he turned her words over and over in his head. Arahad slowly but casually raised his right arm, so that his palm was level to Laurelin's chest. In the instant before he was going to reach out and snuff her life from her, Laurelin's words changed and he heard another voice inside him.
"I would never hurt you Laurelin."
Arahad's eyes widened in fear as his own words washed over him. All of the other words he had spoken to her out of love and concern were sounding within his mind. Laurelin had seen him raise his hand to deliver her death to her, and she had also seen the hesitation that swept away the hellfire that was in his black eyes. She did not understand what was happening to him, whatever it was filled her with confusion. Everyone's eyes were on the pair in the center of the room. The few closest could see the change that came over Arahad, though they did not understand it either. What no one knew and what he barely knew himself was that Laurelin's soft words had slipped him from the tight grasp of the dark, evil power that had claimed his mind and his body.
Arahad whispered her name. He was half calling for her and half telling himself who was standing in front of him. His eyes brimmed with inky tears and recognition as he blinked and looked back at her. His eyes then drifted from Laurelin's face to his hand that was still raised, inches away from her. Arahad shook as he yanked his hand back against himself and desperately tried to back away from her. In his panic he fell backwards onto the stone floor. Laurelin's proud stance relaxed when she saw him fall, she didn't move towards him only slightly leaned.
Arahad saw in his mind's eyes what he had done to the innocent people that had been in the room. It was as if he were watching someone else, someone entirely different from himself. The knowledge that though it seemed foreign, it was he who had killed them pounded through his whole being. Still sitting on the floor, Arahad's hands flew up to his head. He ran his hands through his hair and held his face in his hands while rocking back and forth.
"What have I done? Oh Eru help me! Eru help me!" Arahad rambled like a mad man to himself as he continued to rock. Laurelin, as well as everyone else, watched in bewilderment at what unfolded before them. His eyes darted around the room, pouring over the faces of all people staring at him. Even as he heard Laurelin's words in his head, he could also feel the darkness once again rise up inside him. The pressure between what kept him sane and the evil which was driving him in the opposite direction was mounting quickly. When he felt like he had been brought back safely into the fold by the princess, he felt a pulling within him dragging him back.
"Arahad, is it truly you?" Laurelin's confused seemed to somewhat silence the inner trauma. She had taken a few steps forward and knelt down, but still was well out of his reach. Arahad's frantic eyes wandered back to the source of the voice and met with Laurelin's concerned face. He looked in her eyes for a moment and then gathered his strength to speak.
"Get away, you must get away!" He barely choked out the words from his throat. He raised himself to his kneels only to fall forward, his forehead pressing against the floor beneath him. His hands clenched into fists and he pounded them against the stone. Hoping to beat the panic and pain from him, but it would not go. To be drawn out of his murderous insanity only to be drawn back in again a moment later, to feel the pain once more. To know what was coming and what would follow, Arahad wasn't sure which was worse; to know what he had done or to know what he would do.
"You cannot fight it; you are nothing but a weakling!" Arahad looked up when he heard the all too familiar voice. He half expected it to be only within his own mind but there, no more than a few steps in front of him was a tall dark figure. Arahad panted, begging for air, when he focused his eyes on the speaker. Arahad could not make out any features save for two horrible, penetrating eyes.
"Go away..." Arahad sobbed quietly. Laurelin, with Eldarion who had now run up to join her, looked to where Arahad was looking. There was nothing but the bare wall. No one understood what was happening to him. Arahad squeezed his eyes shut, hoping that when he opened them again the dark thing that stood in front of him, taunting him, would be gone.
"I am not going anywhere, you are mine! You belong to me alone, I made you! You must obey my will!" The voice was seething with mockery and hatred. Arahad made no reply, he kept his eyes tightly closed so he would not have to see the being he knew to be his master. Though the puppet was silent, the master continued his words of poison.
"Do you wish to save them??" The dark one laughed evilly. Anger began to well up within Arahad. His anger, frustration, and pain grew by leaps and bounds. Arahad could only groan and grunt in pain but still the other kept on.
"You are nothing but a poor, pathetic insect, must I crush beneath my heel? You will do what you are told slave, kill them all!!!" The dark one, who was only seen by Arahad, advanced at his last statement. His tone became louder, more impatient as well. It had been the final straw for Arahad, and that straw had snapped.
"Enough! I would sooner die!" Arahad growled as he launched forward towards what seemed to everyone else to be a bare, uninhabited wall. His arms were outstretched as if you claw out his anger. His hands never clawed anything though, for this dark, sinister figure was only present in his mind. And it was there where it could do the most damage.
"Die? You can't die you fool! Do you not know your own prophecy? Not one of your foes can defeat you! No one can or will defeat you! Do not resist any longer, give yourself over to the hate!"
Arahad was about to let loose an anguished cry when those words of his master, the words of the prophecy echoed in his ears. He let it repeat over and over in his mind. The he let it spill from his trembling lips.
"None of my foes...None of my foes..." Arahad whispered to himself in a rough and harsh voice. He knew it was true, none of them had any hope in the world to even do as much as scratch him. He hated that fact with all his being. In that moment there was nothing he wanted more than to lay down and die, but all the hoping and wanting in Arda couldn't grant him that. Arahad attempted to raise his head but only succeeded in falling back, his forehead once again pressed against the stone. The coolness of the floor did nothing to calm the heat of anger surging through him. The dark form loomed over him and began to laugh mockingly at Arahad's attempted recovery.
Arahad was waiting for it to come over him again; he was too weak to fight it any longer. All eyes were still on him as his muscles relaxed, his body crumpling forward. He was still struggling to breathe when he took a sharp intake of air and froze where he lay. His body began to tremble and he once again tried to pull himself up. He knew, in the space of a second he knew. It had all become exceedingly clear to Arahad. He willed himself to stand, and did so wearily. His weakness was apparent; he swayed back and forth as if the room was spinning like a top. Arahad tried to keep his feet firmly planted but it did no good. He was well off balance, all his energy and effort was placed in keeping himself standing.
"Arahad?" Eldarion whispered, hardly loud enough for anyone to hear. His sister stood near him, hands grasped together in a subtle panic. Both of them dared to step forward as they watched him try to gain a little composure. He did not turn to look at him, or anyone for that matter.
"You must stay away, everyone has to stay away." Arahad slurred weakly. They barely heard him, and then they watched as he staggered away from them, towards the wall he had been yelling at. The brother and his younger sister glanced at each other and then quickly back at Arahad. In Arahad's mind, his master was still there though now he was silent. He watched, like all the others present, Arahad moved slowly towards the east wall of the throne room. The people only moved cautiously to make way for Arahad, the whole encounter had stunned them. None of them had tried to run away again, they stood silent and confused.
Arahad had made his way over to the east wall, a wall he had been observing earlier. It was the very same wall that had the many various weapons mounted on it. His eyes poured over the gleaming metal and painted wood until he found what he was searching for. His trembling hand reached up and took the same elvish blade he had handled not long before. Laurelin and Eldarion watched as he took Glamdring from its resting place, they both were filled with anxiety and confusion as to what he was planning to do. Once again Arahad held the sword's hilt as his other hand ran lightly over the blade.
"Please forgive me..." Arahad said as he raised his eyes from the sword to Laurelin and her brother. His expression was deeply pained; it was hard for the two to look at him without feeling pain themselves. After he had spoken to them, Arahad looked over to one of the large pillars, to the dark form still standing there. Arahad glared defiantly but his hard gaze was brought back to the prince and princess when he heard Eldarion's words.
"Arahad, what are you going to do?" Eldarion asked hesitantly as he watched Arahad's every move with the sword in his hand. The prince wasn't sure if he truly wanted to know and was more afraid that Arahad would show him rather than tell him. Laurelin said nothing, only watched the man in front of her. His eyes and face looked tired and sad; she had never seen him in such a state.
"I know I will never deserve forgiveness for what I have done here today. I am so sorry..." His voice was shaking with emotion, though no tears came to his eyes.
"I have killed half of these innocent people; I will save the other half. Eldarion, you know what I am and you will understand when I tell you that I am cutting my strings."
Arahad gave a weak smile to Laurelin, his eyes lingering on her beautiful face. Then in a flash of steel, before Eldarion could comprehend his words, Arahad imbedded the blade he held deep into his own stomach.
To be continued...