Return of the King: Kyshri's Story - The quest to destroy the One Ring told through the eyes of a runaway Elf (part six of thirteen)
[Elvish thought or telepathy]
Recap of Tale 5 . . .
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.]
Taking that as the end to the conversation, Celeborn asked no more of her and rose, stepping out onto the balcony and lying on the lounge there to look up at the stars that shone down on him benevolently.
[To the stars that shine so kindly on Lothlorien,] he prayed silently, [help one of her children. Let Kyshri return safely to us. No matter what it is that may have befallen her, please allow her to return.]
The turmoil in his heart suddenly calmed. He still feared for her, but it was as though he had been cradled as a babe might and his feeling of dread soothed to a dull murmur of concern. He closed his eyes in the comforting sensation and let his thoughts wander. Oddly, he locked on Haldir's death, which was not so much of a consolation as it brought a thought to life.
So he said, [When Kyshri ran away, you always swore it had prevented you from being the guardian you thought Malyr and Irelia had expected you to be. Now is your chance to fulfill that expectation you believed they had of you. Kyshri is lost within the bounds of Mordor. Find her.]
Then, as a worried sleep took him, he whispered, [And bring her home.]
Returning to my physical form was similar to drawing on a wool coat sodden with water. It was heavy and I did not particularly care to wear it, but I did so still because I sensed that I had yet to fulfill my oath of vengeance for those dead in my far-off home of Veikai.
I found myself face-down on the cell floor with lash marks across my front and back. Sitting up slowly, I winced as pain lanced through my body. Feeling around, I came upon my armor and the articles of clothing I had been divested of. Pulling them on, I waited patiently until one of the Orcs came for me again and in the meantime devised my escape.
Sure enough, I waited only an hour before the light of a torch illuminated the hall. It was left in a sconce out of my sight and I moved into the darkest corner of my cell. The Orc appeared and unlocked the door, muttering to himself and then, I suppose--as I did not care to listen--shouting at me in the Black Tongue. The cell door swung open, the Orc swaggered in, and I gathered myself for a spring. I would be escaping this time, no matter what it took.
He came closer . . . closer . . .
I lunged and grabbed his helmeted head, twisting it promptly. A sharp snap echoed all around, announcing my success. I searched him for other keys, but he had none. Leaving the cell and locking the dead Orc inside it, I risked being found and went to the next cell, unlocking that door and pulling it open slowly, entering cautiously.
There was a surprised shuffle in the far corner. [Go . . . away.]
Mother had always said my stubbornness was from Father and Father told me it was from Mother. Haldir had said it was double from both of them, which he said explained my constant obstinance to orders. Therefore, someone hiding coward-like in a corner was not going to make me leave simply by telling me to do so. I took a few more steps.
[I said to come no closer, Kyshri!]
I stopped dead then, feeling the blood drain from my face. They knew who I was, so I knew them. I hurried forward, kneeling by them and drawing their hands from their face . . .
[Oh, sweet Valar,] I breathed weakly. [Turkal? How did you get here?]
He looked as though he was diseased; patches of dark skin covered him, his blue eyes were now black, and two-thirds of his once golden hair was black as well. The answer struck me suddenly, as a bolt of lightning would have.
He was becoming an Orc.
[Lothlorien was attacked by the darkness in Dol Guldur. I was taken prisoner with others who were later slain, left alone to bear this new horror.] Turning away, he whispered, [Please go, Kyshri.]
Lothlorien . . . attacked? My thoughts flew immediately to my `family', but I knew it was too late to even consider going there to help. I reached for his shackles. [I will not leave you here.]
He batted my hands away. [You must! I am an Orc now! I cannot leave, I cannot walk in the sunlight as I once did!]
[You can still speak!] I shot back quickly, releasing the shackles and freeing him. [Your hair is still golden! You can heal!]
[It is too late!] he insisted.
[It will never be too late!] I snapped. [Not until you allow the darkness to consume you! If you let this happen, what is it that I should tell Aramel?! Am I supposed to tell her that I did not see you?! That I slayed you bec---]
He grabbed my ribs and jerked me forward. [That is it! Kill me, Kyshri! Kill me, please! I do not wish to fight you or any other in the future! Please kill me and let all this be done!]
I wrenched free. [How dare you ask that of me! Are you really so selfish as to stain my hands with the blood of my kin?! I will not allow myself to be so cursed for you, coward! Now rise and come with me!]
Thankfully, I shamed him enough that he did as I commanded. Leaving the block of cells, though, the rest of which were empty or contained only the dead, I found a cache of weapons near the door. To my incredulous amazement, I found all of my weapons there as well as Turkal's own sword.
Orcs were far more stupid than I had thought.
After arming ourselves, we snuck out into the halls. They were mysteriously vacant, probably because most of the Orcs were at Pelennor getting themselves killed. I led Turkal down random halls, wishing I knew where I was going. I did know that I wanted to go up and find a window; I could then see what direction we were facing and even jump out it if necessary--I could call the wind to support both of us if Turkal had lost that ability.
After ascending two flights of stairs, I came upon a small window planted in the middle of the stairway. I looked out and found it to be a full level above the ground, which was perfect. Now all I needed was a bigger window to get out of this horrible place.
I continued up and opened the next door right into a room full of Orcs.
Luckily, they were all asleep.
Moving toward the window and glancing cautiously at the Orcs, I recognized some of them from my initial torture. Rage bubbled within me and I growled softly, altering my path to the sleeping beasts.
[Kyshri, what are you doing?!] Turkal cried quietly. [We must go!]
[Not before I avenge my honor,] I replied darkly, drawing Feanar and Daenar from their scabbards. The blades hissed hatefully, waking the Orcs immediately. They scrambled to their feet, drawing their own weapons. [I will have my revenge now for every lash bestowed, for every dead Elf . . .]
The slaughter was amazingly one-sided. In their attempt to reach me in the small room, many of the Orcs were dealing each other near-mortal wounds. They soon began to fall on their comrades; those that did not faced me. Eventually, only a few of the strongest had survived. They turned to me and had time to screech in surprise at my proximity before I beheaded them.
It was not particularly satisfying to finish, for I could never regain what had been taken from me, but at least I knew they would not be doing it again. I wiped my blades clean and resheathed them, then returned to Turkal.
[Can you still summon the wind?]
[No. It left me when the torture first showed what it had done.]
[Then follow me out the window. I will have the wind hold you.] I leapt through the window, Turkal behind me. And though the height was little more than a mallorn's--something a forest Elf could weather easily enough--I summoned the wind's power for Turkal's sake as well as my own. Both of us were injured and in agony; we did not need a bad fall to do worse to us.
The contact with the ground jarred my wounds and beside me, Turkal hissed in pain. We paused to gather ourselves, then snuck away from the tower as quickly as possible. I saw Mount Doom in the distant west and sighed heavily. It would take a fair time to get there, though with both Turkal and I being Elves, even hurt as we were, we would be able to move faster than any mortal.
I do not know how many days it took, for neither the sun nor the stars could ever reach us in that horrible place and instinct would not let us grow tired and rest, but we did eventually make it to the base of Orodruin, Mount Doom. We had been blessed with good luck, having not come into direct contact with Orcs. They often passed by our hiding place and several of the large troops would stop to sniff at the air, but thankfully their business was apparently pressing and they were quick to go on their way.
[Where do we go now?] Turkal asked, frowning as his stomach growled at the same time mine did.
[Even though it is a longer journey from here, I think we should head north.] I lifted my head as a breeze reached us (a typical reaction from any creature bound to the element of wind; even Turkal did it, though he got nothing in his condition) and sensed out the information it carried.
The wind was sour and rotten from the west, smelling of death and despair, and for the first time I put aside my concerns with my own situation and filtered the air, focusing on my friends in an attempt to check up on them. Though I could not enter their minds directly, I could sense for their emotions. None were ill and any injuries that might have befallen them were not mortal . . . So far.
I turned to the northwest, toward Lothlorien. I sensed death, but little despair. Instead, there was a strong rage boiling there, an insatiable fury that Sauron had dared attack thinking to overthrow them.
I jumped, having not expected to be contacted, and a soft chuckle ran through my head.
[I frighten you?]
I shook my head. My telepathic abilities were not particularly developed and in my state could definitely not traverse the distance between me and my birthrealm. I could only hope Lady Galadriel knew what I was trying to say.
[You did not expect this?]
I shook my head again. No, I had not expected it.
[Do not despair, Kyshri.]
It was difficult not to.
[Many look for your return; they fear for you. Do not dare fail them. Come back to Lorien.]
I bowed my head. I would not fail, no matter the test. And I would go back to Lorien when I could.
[We shall await you.]
I sighed heavily and searched my tunic and pants. To my surprise, I found a relatively whole lembas and broke it in half, handing one to Turkal. [This is going to have to last you. It is all I have.]
[Thank you.] He took it and bit into it, his eyes unfocused. Finally, he said, [Kyshri, I think there are Orcs nearby.]
I drew Feanar and Daenar. Both were shining a bright yellow and I assumed, as I had never consulted them before, that it meant Orcs were near. But then the yellow began to darken and became a sharp orange. Not long after it darkened again to a deep blood red, at last allowing me to understand why they had both been named in regard to fire.
I had not known that such blades could actually change colors according to the proximity of Orcs, but I was quite glad of it. It let me know how fast they were approaching, which was apparently quite a clip.
Then I heard them; they were just around a wall of rock to the south.
Turkal lunged at me, scooping me into one arm and leaping easily up a stone formation. I barely kept down a yelp of startlement and tried not to shout at him for such an unexpected action as the troop of Orcs marched by. Within seconds they had slowed and were sniffing the air, their columns falling apart as they spread out to search for the source of what was surely Turkal's and my Elvish scent.
I shrank away from them instinctively even though there was a fair distance in height between us and Turkal put his arm around my shoulders, not quite tucking me beneath him protectively. It was not that he and I were particularly close--really, we were just vague acquaintances through Aramel, whom I had come to know only because our mothers were friends--it was more that while all Elves had an inborn hatred and/or fear of Orcs, males were specifically groomed to be fiercely defensive of any Elven female.
Such guarding behavior was second-nature to them and quite an unconscious gesture on their part, so I did not scold Turkal for his conduct. To be honest, I saw it as a comforting sort of gesture. It reassured me that not only had I indeed saved Turkal from imminent Orc-dom, but that he was actually healing just as I had told him he would. Displaying such a clear sign of being an Elf and not an Orc surely meant that he would be all right.
Anyway, as the Orcs searched along the ground for us, larger Orcs--perhaps Uruk-hai, I was not paying much attention--appeared and drove the group into their columns again, beating them to make them move on once more.