Quest of the Next Generation-Part 3 - Escape from a Nightmare

Author's Note: Ok, there's a whole bunch of crazy stuff going on in this chapter, so try to keep up. I might remind you that some of this stuff isn't accurate with Tolkien's history of Middle Earth, but just pretend that we know what we're talking about.

*******

Arias slowly lifted the hood off the heads' of her comrades. Before they could turn, five immense orcs in leather took Merry, Pippin, and Aewen. The voice was speaking :

"Take the halflings to their cells, prepare the rack for the Elf." Aewen was dragged away, sobbing, as the hobbits began yelling for help. Arias turned to look at the darkened figure.

"What do you want with me?" she asked.

"You show unusual strength, Elf," the voice crooned.

"I'm not an elf," Arias corrected, "And what is it to you?"

"You could be used for a greater purpose--"

"Never! I know not who you are, nor your purpose, but I shall serve no one but myself!" Arias spat back. The figure darkened even more as Arias heard an unusual voice in her ears:

It is pointless to resist, it cooed, All will be in my hand in the end.

All evil thinks so, Arias returned, her eyes beginning to glow, and all have fallen.

Fool! the voice screeched so loud, Arias felt the need to cover her ears, but found she couldn't, Do you not think that I will have even your people when I finish!

You cannot! You would never succeed! Arias' "voice" out-did the other. The figure suddenly glowed with an eerie glow and threw a spinning ball of fire at Arias. Arias, being the apprentice of the world-renowned wizard, was able to quench the fire in a matter of seconds. The red-cloaked wizard was astonished, but managed to keep it from his face. He recognized the style with which she weilded her power. He smirked

"Someone has studied with Gandalf the Grey,"

"Gandalf the White, thank you," Arias corrected.

"I did not know he had returned to Middle Earth."

"Well, I found him for you," Arias mocked, "Pity you won't be around to greet him." Arias pulled out a fire ball of her own and thrust it in the man's direction. He narrowly blocked it. Frustrated and partially embarressed, the man's face screwed up into a frown.

"I think I've had enough of you!" he sneered. Arias felt herself bound tightly by some unseen force. No matter how she struggled, she couldn't free herself. The man chuckled.

"That should teach you to trifle with Dichamal the Red!" he laughed harder. *Dichamal is pronounced die-KA-mal.*

"Take her away," he commanded. Two disgustingly filthy ocs grabbed Arias' arms and dragged her from the room. Craning her neck, Arias shot one last bit of magic at her opponent. Looking back, she saw he was blinking furiously and shaking his head. The elven-wizard smiled grimly. The magic of Galadriel never failed.

"I shall speak to you later!" the wizard in red growled.

"Oh, go kiss an orc!" Arias shouted back.

**********

Aewen shook her head to clear it.

"You've got to stop this blubbering," she muttered to herself, "There's more important things to worry about. They mustn't get any information from these hobbits. I'll have to find and rescue them myself." Just as she was formulating a plan, she heard the cell door open and chains rattling. Terror rushed through her, but she didn't make a sound. She was going to make it out of this- she would never tell. Never.

The door swung open and two figures were thrown in. Aewen covered her mutilated face with her hair and peered out at the hobbits still on the floor. A moment past and the taller one groaned and sat.

"Pip?!"

"Aye?"

'Just making sure you was alive."

Aewen sighed with relief. It wasn't Dichamal coming to "talk" with her. In fact, it was the opposite. She'd found the hobbits. But, how was she to let them know she was there without scaring them half to death? Quite frankly, there was no way to tell them of her presence without frightening them, for it was pitch black and one couldn't see their hand if it was two inches in front of their face.

"I'm glad you are both alive," she said, and almost instantly the two hobbits jumped a mile, "and fear not! I am Aewen of Mirkwood, friend of Lady Arias."The hobbits relaxed a tiny bit.

"Lady Aewen! So we've found you at last!" Pippin exclaimed.

"What in the world are you doing here?" Merry added.

"That is not to be discussed right now," Aewen said, "We must get you out of here quickly. They want information from you and they must not get it. Do you understand?"The silouettes of the hobbits' heads nodded.

"Lady Aewen," Merry said, after a moment's pause, "Come near the door where there is a meager amount of light."Aewen shrunk further into the dark.

"No good hobbits. I dare not."

"We wish to see your face!"

"No, you don't."

"Yes, we do."

"Trust me, you don't want to."

"We like to see who we're talking to!"

"All right! But I would have spared you..."Aewen stepped into the dim light near the door. The hobbits gasped.

"But...but..."Pippin stammered.

"An orc in appearance but Elf through and through," Aewen said, kneeling, "Please don't be afraid. I've been alone in the dark too long."Staring into those blue eyes, Merry could see the Elf in her.

"Aye," he nodded, "I'll not fear ye."

***********

Arias sat, bonded upright, only able to move her head. Her room was lit with two torches on either side of a rich chair that was opposite to her. Her anger stewed; she gritted her teeth. Just then, the door opened and the wizard in red strode to the chair. He settled in his throne and sighed with no emotion.

"I know who you are," he said.

"Fancy, I know you," Arias said, "How convenient. You are Dichamal the Red, once apprentice to Saruman the Weak."

"The White."

"Weak! He fell to Sauron, so he is weak."

Arias' eyes glowed as she looked deeply into Dichamal's face.

"You are Arias, daughter of Aragorn and Arwen, and the illegitimate heir to Gondor," Dichamal returned, avoiding her eyes.

"I know my position, sir, there is no need to state it," Arias said, "My brother will be surely be king, just as you will surely be taught to fear me. Do not judge me, for my great-grandmother's magic thrives in my veins."Dichamal blinked some more, but Arias still stared at him. He was being to feel intimidated.

"I have a matter of great importance to discuss with you, my lady," he said.

"Oh? Tell me," Arias mocked, widening her eyes. Dichamal saw visions of his master, the late Lord Saruman, specifically of his death by the halflings. Dichamal shook his head.

"Try that again and I'll have yoiu blindfolded," he hissed. Arias laughed, as though she was amused.

"Will you now? I should be interested to see you attempt," she said.

"If you value the lives of your three companions, you will cooperate!" he threatened. Arias spat at him.

"You wouldn't dare!" she cried.

"Oh, wouldn't I?" he said, dangerously. Now Arias saw a vision. She saw the hobbits and Aewen being tortured and mutilated. She swallowed and blinked.

"What do you want?" she asked, quietly.

"Nothing, really, " he said, standing and striding over to the mantlepiece of the fireplace, "I have heard tales that the Elven rings of power have been restored to Middle Earth." He turned. "I should like to know who now holds them."

"Do you think I know that?!" Arias cried, "That is the secret of secrets! How should I, a mere youth in their eyes, know such a thing?!"

"You can rot in here, for I am not freeing you until you talk," and with this, Dichamal left.

Arias sat, quaking, for she knew very well who held the rings-- Arwen Evenstar, queen of Gondor; Legolas Greenleaf, present appointed king of Lorien; and Lady Galadriel, who was now residing in the Grey Havens. Now Arias knew exactly where the fear in Aewen's voice came from. "I've got to get out of here!" she thought, and began gnawing at the magical bonds with her own powers.

*********

"You know the plan, right?" Aewen checked for the fifth time.

"Aye," replied Pippin, "We know what to do."The heavy orc steps were coming closer.

"Here goes nothing!" whispered Aewen. The hobbits hid behind the door in the shadows.

The door burst open and a huge orc strode in.

"The rack is waiting for you, my lady!" he taunted.

"I'm not going this time," Aewen said, "I'll tell you nothing!"The orc strode over, leaving the doorway open. The two hobbits slunk silently out into the hall, and then ran for all they were worth.

"It worked, Merry!" Pippin exclaimed.

"I know, keep running!" Merry commanded. From down the hall, the heard orc voices echoing.

"Here we go again!" Pippin mumbled, at the same time as Merry groaning, "Ye spoke too soon, Pip!" Pippin stopped, making no reply to Merry.

"In here, quick!" he said, pointing to a cell door that was open a jar. They slipped into the dank cell and waited.

"Now what, Master Took?" Merry asked, emphasizing Pippin's last name.

*********

While waiting for her bonds to break, Arias devised a plan.

"I can't fight him alone," she thought, " I need help." The closest place was Gondor, but her mother lived there and Arias wasn't ready to face her mother yet, nor the sorrow that dwelt in her house. The next best place was Lorien, where her friend Legolas Greenleaf ruled as king. He would know what to do, and his armies were stong. She would also stop in Rohan for a horse, and maybe food. The Rohirrim would offer help, too, no doubt. The plan was dangerous and there was one aspect of it that she did not like: it meant leaving her companions behind.

"I will do what I must," she said, to know one in particular. And with that, the rest of her bonds broke.

*********

The orcs had passed and Pippin heaved the heavy door open as Merry heaved a heavy sigh of relief.

"I know what I'm doing, see?" Pippin assured his comrade.

They left the empty cell and ran down the hall, keeping to the shadows.

An hour passed and they were outside Minas Morgul.

"Uh, genius?" Merry said, "We don't know how to get out of this stinkhole!" Pippin stopped and pondered this.

"Point."he said, "I guess we'll just have to wait for Arias, then!"

"You think, then, that she'll get out?"

"Of course, she's a wizard!"

*********

Stepping through the cell door, Arias saw her cloak lying unnoticed on the doorway of the cell. Arias picked it up and threw it on, thinking, "This is my lucky day. The cup is still half full." After donning on her cloak, Arias turned and walked down the hall. She was nearing the end of the dungeons when a ruckus met her ears. *(Author's Side-Note: Just a funny story about this sentence. My friend and I were up late, writing in the hotel room, and both of us were kinda starting to lose it. You girls understand: it was one of those nights where everything makes you giggle. Anyway, so my friend is telling me that I've had the notebook too long and wants me to get Arias out that instant. So she tells me to write "Arias was nearing the exit." I'm starting to think of neon lights in the doorways of this dreaded castle, saying stuff like "Exit" or "Lounge-Employees Only". We must have laughed for an hour, picturing a character poking his/her head in a door where there are orcs sitting in cushioned chairs and drinking coffee under flouresant lights. Man, we need lives.)* Arias turned and saw a group of orcs throw a shivering figure into the hall.

"I won't tell you anything! Not anything!" Arias heard Aewen's voice.

"We will see," one orc returned, "You will beg our mercy before the end!"

"That is if she lives to see the end," a shorter orc hissed.

Arias watched as Aewen was dragged off, not even allowed to walk. Arias shivered, involuntarily, knowing she was helpless to save her comrade.

She slipped inside Aewen's empty cell and pried the bars off the window, after reciting a quick spell. She gripped the rough window ledge as she began to hang out the window. She pulled out two stone daggers and stuck them both into the wall. Taking one in each hand, she began to descend by stabbing the daggers and then moving them down about an armspan length down. With her invisibility cloak on, she didn't worry about being seen, but falling and being dashed against the stone below frightened her. Down, down, down she edged. Each stab made her arms ache, but she still pressed on. An hour passed, then two, and Arias was still descending. Finally, after two and a half hours of stabbing and dangling, Arias stepped onto the ground outside of Minas Morgul.

Arias didn't stop to look back, as soon as her feet hit the dusty ground, she began to run. She had to get to the Gap of Rohan before nightfall. They would knwo her there. She would borrow a horse, and ride to Lothlorien. If she could get there in three days, she planned, it would take another five days to return to Mordor with an army. There also was the matter of going through Gondor without being asked to make an appearance at her mother's residence. The first time, being seen would be no worry with her invisibility cloak, but Arias hadn't cloaks for everyone of the armies of Rohan and Lorien. Even in all her stress, Arias yearned for the hobbits. Their boyant spirits had always made even the darkest situations light. It was no wonder that Gandalf loved the halflings.

Stifling on coming tears, Arias passed into a briar of thorny bushes. She slipped off her cloak and listened to the land about her. Queer rustling came from a soft spot in the briar patch. Drawing her sword, Arias gently prodded the flat side of it into the soft spot. A grunt followed, and Arias plunged her hands in, dragging out two dreadfully shaken hobbits by the hair.

"Confounded, Meriadoc, Peregrin!" Arias cried, giving the hobbits a little shake, that's when she realized, "How--how did you get here?" Pippin's voice answered.

"We don't know, really," he said, "Aewen said--"

"You met Aewen?"

"We were thrown into the same cell," Merry answered.

"Aewen told us of a secret way out," Pippin said, "When the orcs came to take Aewen to the rack, we slipped out of the cell."

"That's it?!" Arias gasped, "You just 'slipped' out of Minas Morgul?!"

"To put it bluntly, aye, that's what happened," Merry answered. I don't believe it! Arias was stunned. There were only three known people to ever escape Minas Morgul: two were Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee, the other was an elf of ancient times called Dawncrest. Dawncrest had been taken prisoner before the first War of the Ring, and escaped on his own during the last battle when Sauron fell. It was rumored that Dawncrest went insane not long after that. And here were two hobbits who claimed to merely "slip" out a secret exit. Yet Arias had to believe, for Merry and Pippin stood there in front of her.

Arias drew the two hobbits in for a tight embrace.

"But you are safe," she said, "and that's all that matters. But come, we must reach the Gap of Rohan tonight. You may cling to my neck in order to stay under my cloak. I will be running and not stoppin. Haste, my dear halflings, we must make haste!" With this said, the hobbits clung to Arias' neck as Arias put her hood up. The world began to glow and Arias began to run. Presently, the hobbits heard Arias utter an unknown tongue and their eyes began to droop. As Merry and Pippin began to drift into a dreamless sleep, they felt an odd sensation as though they had left the ground and began to fly.

To Be Continued......
NOTE TO LEGOLAS FANS: THE ELF WITH THE ARROWS WILL BE RE-INTRODUCED IN THE PART FOUR. Just thought you'd like to know.

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