Scion of Snaga - Chapter Thirteen - The Thrall Acts

Author's Note: I finally got sick of waiting for the computer fixers to get the hard drive back and rewrote this chapter. It turned out better this time anyway. Here it is, and I apologize again for the wait!

Mothlin stared agape at Sauron. He shook his head, as if that could clear from his mind the words that Sauron had spoken. It can't be true, it can't be true... "What did you say?" he demanded, holding a shaking Cilyawen against him.

"Why bother repeating myself?" asked Sauron. "You know very well what I said. You just need to hear it again to convince yourself that it's true." The Enemy chuckled. The sound sent chills down Mothlin's spine. "I will only say this once. It's true."

"But -" stammered Mothlin. "But that can't be! You didn't make me come here! I left Rivendell by my own choice, don't you dare say that was you!"

"Oh, that was you," Sauron assured him. "That is just the kind of foolhardy bravery I'd expect from anyone raised by Snaga. But when you opened the door to my Orcs, it was because of me."

Mothlin felt as though he'd been gutted. "But how did you - how could you -"

"It was almost sickeningly easy," Sauron said. "Recall, if you will, a night in a peaceful settlement of Elves near Rivendell. I do believe the moon was shining very brightly. And then the settlement was not so peaceful, was it?"

"No," Mothlin choked out. "No, it wasn't. Because that was when the Orcs came."

Sauron shifted, drifting closer to Mothlin. "And you remember the pain, don't you? When they caught you, after they killed your precious parents, and they tied you and gouged you until you were leaking blood from every pore in your body..."

"Stop it!" Mothlin lashed out vainly, his hand empty and open, feeling that he'd trade anything to be able to strike Sauron across the face and knock out a few of the Dark Lord's teeth. He gritted his own teeth in frustration as his hand flailed wildly, running through mere air. Cilyawen in his arms was stiff with fear and pain and exhaustion.

"When at last you dropped unconscious," Sauron continued, keeping fluidly away from Mothlin's waving hand, "that was when they bound you to me. The pain made your mind easy to influence, and I made you mine. I could hardly believe my luck when it was Snaga and her silly little husband found you." At the slight to Elrohir, Cilyawen's fingers tightened on the folds of Mothlin's tunic that they gripped, but she had no strength for any other defiance. "I did nothing with the tie in your mind for all the time you were in Rivendell, until I needed Snaga again. Then I touched you, and you performed admirably, little thrall." Sauron sounded pleased, even surprised. Mothlin was disgusted.

"Don't call me that!" he snarled.

"Why not?" asked Sauron companionably. "What else are you?"

Mothlin had no answer to that.

"As I was saying," Sauron went on, "I only touched you again to bring you here. Most of your journey was entirely your own." Again that chuckle that made Mothlin want to scream in futile fury. "You should learn not to trust voices in your head so blindly, thrall."

"How was I to know?" Mothlin cried. "You made it so that I couldn't have realized!"

"How perceptive of you."

Mothlin squeezed his eyes shut against the stinging moisture in them. He clung to Cilyawen as she clung to him and whispered, his voice cracking with tears and rage, "I hate you."

Sauron laughed, "I am sure you do. You two are the kind of people who would. But hate me or not, you will obey my commands, and you will be mine. You are mine, in fact, and I will prove it to you now. Hit yourself."

"What -" Mothlin asked, before he felt the pressure in his mind. A greater thought than his was weighing him down, demanding, insisting, ordering that he strike himself. He said No, but he saw his own hand come up, and he felt the blow across his face, and heard it ring in his ears, and he trembled, terrified.

The tone of Sauron's voice made Mothlin imagine him as a satisfied cat who just finished a bowl of cream - or a fat mouse. "You see?" was all he said, two simple words.

It was enough.

Suddenly Mothlin heard something very odd, something entirely out of place. Sounds reached his ears, sounds from the corridor outside the chamber - the sounds of battle, and of Orcs grunting and dying, and of low snarls and hisses in a voice he knew very well.

And then the Orc guards outside the door fell inside, both stabbed through the heart, and standing framed by the doorway, her red hair in a flaming, tousled halo about her flushed face, was Elenanar.

Mothlin cried out her name before he could stop himself. She looked at him - but he saw from the look in her eyes that she had not made the mistake of thinking that he and Cilyawen were alone. She too could feel the presence of Sauron, and she trembled at it. The sword and dagger in her hands trembled as well, but she advanced nonetheless, her jaw set.

Then Mothlin felt the crushing pressure of Sauron's mind on his. "No," he gritted, his fingers digging into Cilyawen's frail shoulders, desperate to hold on to himself.

"Yes," said Sauron, cooing softly, gentle.

"No," hissed Mothlin, closing his eyes. Elenanar had reached him - he felt her hand on his shoulder - and then it was gone. He reared his head up to see her slammed against the dirt wall, and panic flared in his mind, and Sauron gripped hold of it in triumph and ordered, "Take your dagger and kill her" -

Elenanar struggled to her feet. Her head reeled, and every bone in her body was screaming from the pain of the impact. She rubbed fiercely at her eyes to clear them, dropping her dagger into the dirt.

When her eyes were clear, she stood frozen in disbelief.

Mothlin had shoved the rail-thin Elf woman (who had to be the Lady Cilyawen) away from him. She stumbled and fell to the earthen floor. Elenanar began to move toward her, and stopped as Mothlin reached for his twin knives. There was something in his eyes that frightened her, but she couldn't place it for a moment. And then she realized that what frightened her was the simple absence of Mothlin in them. There was someone else inside him now, and she heard Sauron say, "Take your dagger and kill her," and she knew instantly.

"Mothlin, don't!" she screamed at him.

He paused, but Sauron hissed, "Kill her, thrall!" and he drew the right-side dagger.

Elenanar bent and scooped up her own dagger, throwing it vainly at the place where she'd heard Sauron. It passed through thin air and thudded dully into the dirt, and she looked back at the thrall. He moved with unstoppable speed as she watched in horror, leaping on the Lady Cilyawen and standing on her wrists to pin her to the floor. Cilyawen twisted to free her hands, and kicked out with her free legs, but the thrall ground the heel of his boot mercilessly into the insides of her wrists, and she sagged like a boned fish into the floor. "Stop!" Elenanar heard herself yell.

She shoved off the wall and flew toward the thrall, and as she flew he drew back his dagger and buried it to the hilt in Cilyawen's chest.

Cilyawen's scream, torn from a raw and ragged throat, cut the air like a sword slicing through flesh. The thrall withdrew the blade, stained to the hilt, and bright red blood gushed from the wound, soaking the front of Cilyawen's gown and splashing gruesomely onto the hands and face of the thrall. He smiled, a smile with no mirth in it, and Cilyawen's scream cut off abruptly as she ran out of voice to scream with.

Only then did Elenanar reach his side.

She forced herself not to look at the blood fountaining from Cilyawen like some gory waterfall. Instead she snatched at the thrall's dagger and yelled in his ear, "Stop this, stop it, come back to yourself!" The thrall yanked on it and stumbled - Elenanar bore him to the floor, wrestling him for the blade. She finally managed to tear it out of his hand and threw it behind her. "Mothlin!" she cried, grabbing his wrists. "Look at me! Come back, Mothlin!"

The thrall paused for a moment, then backhanded her. The blow rang in her ears, but she twisted her neck back around and stared for a breathless, anguished instant into his eyes. If he can come back - if he can be Mothlin again - if he can let this go -

Heedless of the bloody mess he was, heedless of the danger, Elenanar grabbed his face, pulled him close, and kissed him hard.

He grabbed her by the hair, his fingers brutal, yanking in it to pull her face away. She locked her fingers behind his neck and held on stubbornly - and then his grip on her hair loosened, and his arms came around her and crushed her against him, and he kissed her back. And when she broke off the kiss and looked, giddy with hope, at him, she knew he was back. "Elenanar -" he started to say, but then a sound behind made them both whip their heads around and scramble to their feet.

Mothlin made a strangled sound. Cilyawen was still gushing blood, but her skin was growing paler and bluer with every moment, and Sauron was stronger than ever, a vivid, pulsing presence alive with some new horror. As they watched, something coagulated next to Cilyawen, a small knot of matter. And slowly, agonizingly slowly, a pair of eyes, red as flame, appeared out of the knot.

"He's using her -" Elenanar choked beside him. She could not finish the thought.

Mothlin was lost again, but not to Sauron this time. Something else was overwhelming him, something livid and red, pure emotion with no reason or reality to it. Hatred. He had never had a more welcome feeling in his life.

He flew to where his dagger lay behind Elenanar and scooped it up from the floor, and then launched himself at the eyes and plunged the dagger, still wet with Cilyawen's blood, into one of the red eyes.

Sauron's scream ripped through his ears, and he heard Elenanar cry out and cover her ears, but Mothlin banished the sound of it. His world had shrunk to the dagger in his hand and the ruin of the Eye and the warm welcome blood pouring over his arms as he stabbed the Eye again. More times than he could count that blade descended into the bloody wreck, and Mothlin snarled and laughed and choked on the blood that splattered into his face, and stabbed and stabbed again, as Sauron's cry of pain and fury rang in his ears and was not heard.

"Mothlin!" screamed Elenanar. She was tugging at his arm, he realized. "Mothlin, we have to get Cilyawen out of here!"

Cilyawen, he thought. He could keep using her...we have to get her out... He tore himself away from the screaming mass of blood that was Sauron and stuck the bloody dagger back into its sheath. His heart twisted inside him as he saw how pale Cilyawen was, her blood staining her like some sort of macabre paint, and he shuddered as he touched her cold flesh. But he lifted her with the utmost care into his arms. "Take your sword and lead," he told Elenanar, and she retrieved her sword and dagger.

They encountered no Orcs on the way out of Dol Guldur.

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