Return of the King: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway Elf (part five of thirteen)
Here is a quick guide on how to distinguish languages:
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 4 . . .
Legolas smiled. [You are a good mother, Keelica.]
[Do not be silly; I am awful mother! I let my children be snatched practically from the nest!]
[You are too hard on yourself--the reach of Evil is wide and far.]
The dragon queen sighed heavily and landed on the back of a mumak, the red scale-plating along her stomach easily shattering the framework of the structure on the beast. Many Haradrim were crushed and the mumak began to stampede its way through the army. Keelica merely held on, biting into its neck at a convenient point--almost boredly--and killing it. [Perhaps, young Quendi. Perhaps.]
He noted triumphantly that the dark armies were retreating; now that the Witch-king had been slain, their spirits seemed to have fallen. He sensed a surge of energy from his allies as they took notice of the same thing. Above him Keelica wheeled and dove, occasionally snapping a burst of flame at the ground but usually trying to hunt down the other eight Nazgul that were nearby and unseating them violently.
Despite that the Nine's mounts might have been and probably were her own, she spared them nothing. When she discovered one, she stirred it into flight and then chased it down and grounded it harshly, usually somewhere in the dark army, where it would do maximum damage. Then she mercilessly tore open the smaller dragon's throat, ignoring the change from angry roars to frantic pleas. She left it there to bleed, stomping on each Nazgul as it tried to escape. And while it might not have killed them, it removed them permanently from the battle.
Returning to the war, his attention was abruptly re-routed to the sky by a ghostly shriek. He felt his blood slow, watching as Keelica's flight stuttered to a stop and she fell heavily to the earth upon a few thousand members of the dark army, a long and thick spear of wood shot through her rear legs that had knicked her underside as well.
Then, to his horror, she remained deathly still.
The queen dragon did not stir.
He turned and started to fight his way there. If any of the dark army came up with the brilliant idea to drive another stake through her, it would not be that hard. The Shadow Queen's scales and plating deflected arrows, spears, and swords that were not specially charmed--which had been all but forgotten over the span of millennia and remained unremembered--but they did nothing against such large weaponry. She was extremely vulnerable on the ground.
It was several minutes before he looked up from his fighting to ensure that the Shadow Queen was still there.
She was not.
Instead, he saw that Keelica had been replaced with Kyshri, who was clearly unconscious and oblivious to her danger.
I jerked awake, hearing the cry even over sounds of battle, and immediately saw that I was in deep trouble. I attempted to struggle to my feet, but that failed ultimately. My next move, then, was to remove the large three-year-old sapling-sized spear from my legs.
The pain was unbelieveable but I fought it and climbed shakily to my feet--I do not know how that was possible, but it happened--looking around at the Orcs, goblins, and Haradrim that had been crushed beneath some great weight. Confused, I looked all around, trying to gain my bearings. I had been unconscious so long that it was very difficult to do anything but stand and blink stupidly.
I recognized the voice immediately and searched for its owner. It seemed that for now, with the bodies piled around me to deter movement, I was relatively safe, so I took the opportunity.
Then I found him and relief colored my voice. [Legolas!]
He dashed lightly over the bodies and came to me, not daring to hug me in this precarious situation but caressing my face briefly instead and bestowing an extremely short and tender kiss to my lips. Then he notched an arrow and began indiscriminately picking off members of the army to keep them moving while we were still. [Kyshri, are you all right?]
[Yes, I am fine. What has happened? How did I get here?]
He frowned. [It is . . . a very long story. One to be saved for after the battle.]
Yes, we were fighting a war. How could I have asked such silly questions? I reached for Daenar and Feanar, but felt something slam into my back and chip into my shoulder blade. I let out an involuntary yelp of surprise and fell against Legolas, who hardly moved. He simply turned and put an arrow through the forehead of the nearest Haradrim to startle them for a moment.
He inspected the arrow shaft. [Kyshri? How are you?]
[All right. It is a weapon of Men; nothing like that could hurt one of us from such a distance.] I did not bother to tell him that the Haradrim had been aiming for his head--Legolas probably knew it already.
Quickly but carefully he pried the arrow free and then immediately used it to viciously disable the same Haradrim that had shot me by piercing his right eye. The arrow went straight through the skull and a full two inches emerged from the back of his head. He twitched in a violent convulsion and collapsed stiffly to the earth, never knowing what had happened.
[Come. We must find Aragorn and Gimli.]
I all but sealed myself against his side, tuning my ears for incoming arrows. Unfortunately, that did not prepare me for the Orcs and goblins that surged around us as we left the area. Several grabbed me and jerked me away, making me let out a yelp as Legolas turned. I finally caught myself and snarled, slamming my head into one, then swinging it the other way into another. Curling in upon myself and then straightening and flinging my arms out, I managed to dislodge a few others, leaving only two, which Legolas quickly took care of.
Rejoining his company, I followed him through the battlefield, looking back and forth searchingly. [There!] I shouted, pointing out our friends, who watched each other's back.
We turned that way, but our single-mindedness betrayed us and we were suddenly leapt upon by dozens of the enemy. Caught by surprise, we had no chance to draw our weapons. We were pulled apart and beaten; when I finally managed to get my bearings and stand, there were dozens of feet between us.
[Kyshri!] he cried, panicked.
I struggled to reach him, but the flat of an iron blade connected harshly with my skull. The world abruptly blurred and the light disappeared. The last thing I heard was a terrified near-scream.
He twisted and thrashed, tossing some of his captors down so hard that they died on impact with the earth. He surged forward, escaping the grip of all their comrades, and bolted for the unconscious Kyshri, who was being dragged after several Uruk-hai. He was just reaching them when one turned without warning and raised its sword to strike.
Reacting instantly, he dug his left heel into the earth and pivoted, pushing to the right. However, another Uruk-hai appeared and caught him, striking him back over seven feet. He landed hard on his back and tumbled, struggling to his feet immediately and looking around, disoriented. Finally spotting the Uruk-hai who had Kyshri, he was prepared to go after them again, but he could hardly take a step to move.
His balance off, he staggered to the side, barely keeping his feet. Giving his head a little shake, he found himself with only a few seconds' clarity and used that to gauge his run. He launched into a sprint, his eyes fixed invariably on Kyshri's lolling head.
[Please, melamin,] he begged silently, [wake! Wake and fight them!]
But she did not wake and she did not fight. His steps eventually faltered and he lurched forward, collapsing silently to the earth. Reaching desperately after her as she was taken, he became a witness to the earth forming deadly spikes as tall as mellyrn trees that randomly erupted from the earth and disappeared back into it in the blink of an eye, killing dozens of the enemy at once.
At first confused, for he was quite sure that Gandalf was not there, he drifted unwillingly into unconsciousness, terrified at the mere thought of what would be done to Kyshri while she was in Sauron's grasp.
[Kyshri . . .]
I woke in a dank cell that smelled of blood, fear, and death. There was not even so much as a candle for me to see my surroundings, leaving me completely blind to the world. However, that only made my hearing more acute . . . if that could be considered a good thing. My hypersensitive ears picked up every scream, whip snap, clunk, and chain rattle from the nearby levels.
I was then startled by the clatter of chains and an agonized moan in the cell beside me. I froze automatically, wondering if I would be next to do that. I did not have chains on, but I was sure it would only be a matter of time.
Then the hall was lit by the orange-yellow glow of a torch. There was a sharp grating noise, which I assume--as it was out of my line of vision--meant that it was being placed in a sconce. Four foul Orcs swaggered into view, leering at me through the cell bars and cackling cruelly.
One unlocked the cell door and followed its friends in. They came to me and I found that I was attempting to push myself through the wall. I closed my eyes and swallowed thickly, glaring back at them with all the courage I could draw together. Of course, it was a pathetic effort and they sneered at me.
"Silly little Elfling. What chance do you possibly have of escape? We have your weapons and you cannot face all four of us wounded as you are!"
Oh, I could not, could I? I snarled and lunged at them, but one swung the flat of his iron blade at my head, connecting harshly with my skull. I dropped mid-leap, landing on the stone floor with a dull thud. Still conscious, I tried to rise, but they flipped me onto my back and began pulling at my armor and then my tunic. One unfurled a long whip of what looked like wolfgut while the others chained me to the wall, face-forward.
"There will be no more struggling from you, she-Elf," the one with the whip hissed warningly, "or I start using this."
I snarled and pulled at my bonds, receiving twin cuts across my cheekbones for my trouble.
"Oh dear," came the hateful snicker. "Those nearly took your eyes out. I must have horrible aim; you better watch yourself next time, she-Elf."
Hardly deterred, I continued to fight. I was covered in slash marks from head to waist before I realized they had wanted me to struggle. So I became complacent and hung my head to hide the furious defiance I still carried. Laughing harshly at their victory, the Orcs came forward to finish their work.
I closed my eyes and separated my spirit from my body; I would not allow myself to be broken in this way. The action was painful, but I was prepared for neither death nor, if I survived, to sail west and leave Middle-earth behind.
No . . . I would not leave yet.
The prince of Mirkwood jerked awake, sitting upright instinctively. The final image of the dream--if it was a dream--lingered in his mind, heartlessly teasing him with the possibility of what was happening to Kyshri while he slept in relative peace. He leaned forward as though in some physical pain, buried his face in his hands, and wept silently at his helplessness.
He was momentarily taken by surprise--it was so late he had thought he was the only one awake. Gathering himself, he asked in as normal a voice as he could possibly muster, [Yes?]
[Is it Kyshri?]
Could he hide nothing from the man? [How did you know?]
[. . . Were it Arwen, I would be the same way.] There was a pause. [What did you see?]
He flinched. [Nothing I wish to remember.]
[Legolas, we will find her. We will enter Mordor and search every cave and cell in that black land if that is what it will take.]
The Mirkwood prince managed a weak but still grateful smile at his friend. [Thank you, Aragorn.]
The man settled down again to rest, but Legolas did not. Reaching into his tunic, he drew out the object that he had found beneath his hand when he woke after the battle, wherever it had come from. The Orb pulsed dully in his cupped palms, giving off a faint purple light and letting hope kindle in his heart. He was sure that as long as it glowed, Kyshri was still alive.
Celeborn woke with a start. He sat up slowly, rubbing his head. What pain he had felt . . . what terror . . .
[Kyshri?] he whispered into the dark room.
[She has been taken by Sauron's forces.]
He looked down at Galadriel. [. . . Into Mordor?]
[Into the dark pits of Barad-dur,] came the confirmation.
The lord of Lorien bowed his head in sadness. [Then she is lost . . .]
[Do not be so hasty in your judgement, My Lord,] Galadriel said. [She is the daughter of two warriors and has cared for herself for millennia. Do not consider her lost yet.]
[. . . Will she survive?]
[That is something even I cannot tell for certain.]
Ah, Legolas fangirl mushiness. Just a little, though.