Second Star to the Right - Chapter Seven; What have I done?

Disclaimer: Noooopppppeeee..... Darn lawyers are still bugging me. Silly little creatures... >swats at lawyer zooming past her ear<

A/N: I've done chapter seven, I've done chapter seven, neh neh neh neh, HEY! neh neh neh neh, HEY! Lol, what can I say, I'm quiet proud of myself... ,_~ Agins, bit of a monster chappie here, but that's just the way things work out.
***WARNING*** IMPENDING CHARACTER TORTURE!!! Which was sooo much fun to write, but there you go, that's me! But to `balance it out', there's a nice bit of Eärendil/Elwing/Elrond/Elros fluff in there too, so don't say I don't cater for all tastes!

Also, I dunno exactly how the formatting will turn out for this... Ah well, we shall see! And as always, huge thank yous to 'Elflet' and 'daughterofpaladin' (least ways, I hope and THINK that's your name - sorry, I have a memory like a goldfish...). I cannot thank you enough for your support! ,_,


Chapter Seven - What have I done?

Elrond stirred slightly. He couldn't remember where he was, or why he was there. Only that he wished and hoped beyond all he was worth that he wasn't... That he wasn't in this dark, dismal place, where heavy, suffocating blackness was all he knew; that he wasn't forced to go on, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day for all he knew, with all that was life and light hidden from him. And yet he wanted nothing more than for the darkness to fully take him, to envelope him completely and leave no room for wasted, faded hope. He would welcome death, if it came to him now but...

He was afraid... So afraid, of what the future held for him. Somehow, he knew this seemingly endless torture would cease, and soon. He couldn't say why he knew... Only that he did. Whether he was able or willing to resist it or not, some more powerful force or power would end this pathetic excuse of an existence. He only prayed it would be soon and swift, that he might be spared the final shame and pain of a drawn out death that he knew he did not have the strength to take. He did not want to beg for death, but he knew he would, before the end. Swift, painless... Soon.

That was all he hoped for.


Dawn was breaking. Nesial had risen before the sun had begun to tinge the dark and distant mountains with tender roses and violets. She was sat cross legged by the fire, her back to the open door of the main hall. Káno had left on some no doubt evil errand as she had woken, but she had carefully made sure that she avoided him. She didn't want to give anything away but - well, it didn't mean she had to go out of her way to go near him either. Besides, she didn't know if she could keep the seamless lie up constantly. Not to his face. It had been easy enough to keep it from him before, yes, but they had been small, trivial, insignificant things - not outright bloody mutiny!!!

As she stared unseeing into the dancing orange flames, she wondered absently how Elrond was faring. She had returned to bed down in the unholy hours of the morn, when the moon had still been high in the night sky, and he had been lying on his side stiff and rigid, though she knew not whether he had been sleeping. She supposed that by then, another dose of the Darquaril had been administered, but she couldn't say that it was this that worried her over much. He had already proved the effects were not long term, on him at least, and it was more likely than not his elven heritage that he had to thank for that. As for real long term effects... Well, one step at a time.

No, the one thing that had her worried was his state of mind. She had never experienced the effects of Darquaril Káno gave him (having had a small hand in its creation, she wasn't going to be that stupid), but she had served her time as a slave, along with all her people. She knew how it felt to be treated as if you were worthless, nothing, simply another waste of space to be worked to the death. Then again, she had been lucky by these standards... She at least had known herself, she had still had control of her mind, even if hope had seemed too fantastical a fancy to dwell upon. She had still been Nesial, no matte what had happened... And she had not been alone; she had known that all her people were in it together, and that had been a comfort.

But Elrond didn't have that grace. He didn't have control of his mind, of who he was, of what he thought. He only knew what his Master told him, and beyond that... Nothingness. Pure, complete, unrelenting nothingness. He knew no emotion, no feeling, no real comprehension of his surroundings. And he was alone - all alone, in this foreign, fearful place, without even the thought of rescue. She couldn't think of anything worse or more terrifying...

Outside, she could hear the first mumblings and grumblings from the sluggish men, as they began their day, carrying his and that to and fro. The door was open, and the first golden beams of the sun that had finally fought their way over the hills and through steely clouds streamed down like the footsteps of Angels. Dust fluttered and twinkled gold, bathing in the glorious warm radiance, and Nesial smiled.

She left her spot by the fire, and proceeded to where she had left Elrond supposedly sleeping earlier. She drew back the curtain and was shocked to find Elrond in a defensive, crouched position, his knees pulled up to his chin, his arms hugging them tightly to himself as he rocked backwards and forwards. Occasionally, soft whimperings and groans escaped his torn dried bloodied lips, and he pressed his eyes deep into his knees, trying to blot out the world once and for all. His hands were gripped so tight they were white and shaking.

"Elf-boy?" she asked both curiously and anxiously, dropping down in front of him. "Elf-boy, you there?"

If Elrond heard her, he didn't respond. In fact, he didn't seem to acknowledge her presence at all, but continued to rock rhythmically, swaying a little unsteadily in his drained state.

Her hands fumbling slightly, she gently grasped his shoulders, and was surprised to feel how tensed and taut they were - it felt as though she was handing rocks, there was no give in the clenched muscles whatsoever. She had an awful feeling she knew where this was going, and it was risky - for them both. She placed her hands on his arms.

"Elrond?" she whispered, softly and motherly, while settling herself more comfortably upon the cushions - there was no saying how long this could take.

Closing her eyes, she once more crossed her legs and dipped her head slightly. She cleared her mind of all thought, relaxing her soul and body, embracing the warm nothingness that rushed to greet her, letting her conscience melt into the air. In a matter of seconds, she had fallen into a trance like state, oblivious to the outside world as though it did not exist at all.

Now she turned her mind solely to Elrond; she focused all of her thoughts, tuning in every fibre of her essence to the melancholy and faint song that stuttered and faltered in Elrond's heart. Very gradually, she felt herself descend into a dank, dark tunnel. It was long and straight and endless... But she knew it wasn't, and she knew that she must reach the end of it. She set off at a brisk walk, and as her mind's eye adjusted to the darkness, she began to see that the tunnel was lined on both sides with hundreds and hundreds of solid black doors. Some were bolted with heavy locks, and though she glanced at them as she passed by, she gave little other heed to their presence.

The further along the tunnel she got, however, the more doors there were that seemed only to be pulled to, so that slivers of light danced through the tiny gaps. One in particular caught her eye. There was a thin slice of shimmering flickering light streaming through the gap between the frame and ajar door.

Nesial paused by it, unsure of whether she should see a past that was not hers to see, nor was it her business here... But even as she thought this, it seemed that a gust of salty wind flew past her and threw the door wide open, pushing her forwards with it...


Joyous song and music floated upward from afar, and the familiar room was lit by a single, silvery lantern, resting upon a small wooden table between two identical beds. Beneath the covers of each was laid an identical sleepy but stubborn dark haired child, both of whom seemed to be refusing rest. Sitting opposite each other were a man and woman; his hair was dark and flowing like his sons, yet hers was as golden as the vanished sun below the horizon, though the boys had her sparkling grey eyes.

"But Ada," complained one," We're not tired! Hon-hon-honest!" he protested, attempting and failing to stifle a yawn. Eärendil smiled at his eldest, quirking up an eyebrow.

"Is that so?" he teased lightly, lovingly tracing the back of his hand down Elrond's cheek.

"Yes, it is..." came the stubborn reply. Elwing laughed.

"Naneth, please let us go back down," pleaded Elros, careful to cover his drooping eyes with his arm so she would not see. Their mother, however, was no so easily fooled.

"If you were to go back to the festival, you should curl up asleep under the table," she chided, though the sparkle never left her eyes, "And you can hide your face all you like, my love; I know you are falling asleep."

Elros quickly moved his arm, and gave her the most innocent expression he could muster.

"No I wasn't..."He too yawned.

"We promise we will tell you all about it tomorrow," Eärendil assured them.

"But it won't be the same," grumbled Elrond.

"It's not fair - all the other boys got to stay," added Elros.

"That, my love, is because all the other boys are far older than you are," smiled Elwing, tweaking his nose.

"Aw Naneth - gerroff..." mumbled the younger twin, pushing her arm away.

"When you are old enough, we promise that you can lead the festivities all night long," said Eärendil, glancing between his sons, "But that time is not now. Come on little ones, you have practice tomorrow; if you do not rest you will never wake up in time."

"Practice is boring," groaned Elrond, supported by a hasty nod from his twin.

"Elrond," his father warned, his tone still gentle but edged with a firmer note.

Elrond fiddled with the bed linens, not looking up.

"Sorry Ada," he apologised.

"Very well you two - we shall come to a compromise. If you cannot rejoin the festival, than neither can we," said Elwing, sitting up slightly, "How does that sound?"

Elwing suppressed the smile tugging at her lips as Eärendil glanced swiftly at her, and the twins sat frowning in thought.

"And what, pray tell my Lady, are we going to do instead?" questioned Eärendil, an uncharacteristically wolfish glint in his eye. Elwing gazed him in mock innocence, much like her son had done.

"Well, I've no doubt you could think of something, my Lord," she winked.

The twins exchanged befuddled glances, and then shook their heads in resignation.

"I suppose we could agree to that," sighed Elrond deeply, finally beginning to give into the warm darkness tugging at his mind as his eyes fluttered closed.

"But it only means we shall have to ask Talan in the morning..." defied Elros, adamant till the last as he too closed his eyes. Their parents chuckled softly, stroking their rich silky dark hair.

"Quell kaima, little ones," whispered Elwing, brushing the top of Elros' head with a tender kiss, "Sleep well."

With a glance at their sleeping boys, who were finally sound asleep, husband and wife rose to their feet and took the little lantern with them, pausing in the doorway. As Eärendil placed it on the hanging outside, Elwing turned and leant against it, her arms folded across her chest as she watched her sons wander into the realm of dreams.

"We are blessed, my love," she murmured.

"I know it," Eärendil replied, winding his arms around her waist and shifting her weight so that she leant against him. Elwing allowed herself to melt into his embrace, resting her head under his chin. Gently, he kissed the top of her head with small, sweet kisses, taking delight in the soft aroma of jasmine and lavender in her hair, working his way down her delicately pointed ears and neck. Grinning, she allowed him to turn her around as he traced the line of her slender jaw.

"Believe me, my love," he barely breathed into her, "I know it..."

As she placed her arms around his neck, he kissed her smooth red lips...


Nesial pulled herself forcefully from the memory, stumbled back into the corridor. The door swung heavily shut as though in defiance of her being there, and echoed loudly up the long tunnel.

For a moment she remained stock still, mulling over what she had seen. A happy, happy family... Something she had never known or seen before. With children and a mother, and a father, as it should be... Almost without her realising it, a new emotion began to stir in her heart. It took her by surprise, and for a few seconds she was at a loss as to what it could be; then she understood; Jealousy. She was jealous of Elrond...

How ironic.

Gathering herself together, she set off at a near run back up the corridor, though this time she kept her mind more focused on her purpose, and did not glance at the half open doors on each side.

In the murky gloom, she carried on striding along the tunnel for what could have been anything from five minutes to five ages of the world - she knew full well that time never seemed to pass in the mind. At one point though, the tunnel appeared to come to a dead end. At first she was alarmed and puzzled, but on closer inspection, she saw that in fact the tunnel did not end; it made a sharp right angle, and in the almost lightless place she had not seen it. Sighing in relief, she turned right and went on her way.

No sooner had she stepped around the corner did she feel a strong wave of icy coldness wash over her, as though the ocean's had been unleashed above her head. She froze bang where she was, unable to move for the sudden shock of the plummeting temperature. Shaking, she tried to regain control of her shuddering breathing and forced her feet to move on again, making them take these last few steps. For these were the last few now, she deemed. This bitterness, this biting chill... It came from a broken, lonely soul. It could mean only one thing; Elrond was close - very close.

Shaking herself mentally, she went on up this new corridor with warier steps. There were still doorways here - but they were flung wide open to the tunnel, and a flaring red glow came from within them, no matter what the pictures. Comprehension dawned as Nesial realised what the sharp turn in the tunnel symbolised, and steeling her jaw, she set her eyes on a white light that seemed far and distant from her, though she knew that in reality it was not far at all. That was the end; that was where he was... Now she just had to get there.

Keeping her eyes fixed on the unmoving point ahead of her, she just kept placing one foot in front of the other, not bothered how long each step took, just knowing that each step closer was each step less.

Gradually, very, very gradually, the gap between her and the light seemed to begin to lessen... She was doing fine, just a little while longer, and she'd be past these doors... She didn't fully understand why she shouldn't look in these doorways - only that she couldn't. For she knew what she would find there, and the thought terrified her. Swallowing hard, she persisted, thanking all the Powers above for the strength of will.

Suddenly, a high pitched, shriek of pain rang shrilly through the air from her left; before she realised what she was doing, her eyes flickered towards the source of the sound, and she was drawn towards one of the last doors - her stomach gave a sickening lurch as she recognised the hall from the night before...


Elrond's hands were bound to two metal pikes, driven into the hard ground between the many cushions on the floor. His top half was striped bare, his hair pulled up to reveal a back of flawless and smooth skin. He was shaking - uncontrollably.

"Coward," sneered a coldly familiar voice, "You are a worthless coward..."

Káno strolled at his ease around the wreck of nerves forced into kneeling before him. In his hands he twirled a leather whip with many tails, each ending in a small but strong ball of steel.

"Who is your Master, elf-brat?" demanded Káno suddenly, stopping just in front of Elrond's range of vision, swinging in the flail low so he could see it.

Elrond wanted to answer - at least part of him did. Part of him wanted to scream and plead and beg for mercy, to tell him that Káno was his only Master, now and forever... But another part of him didn't. The other part of him was defiant, proud, and strong. `Don't listen to him,' it said; `You are no one's Master but your own. He cannot break you, not now, not ever.'

"I do not value stupidity as a characteristic in my slaves, elf-brat," commented Káno lightly, as though it were a normal conversation.

Again, part of Elrond wanted to tell Káno he would serve him to the death, no matter what came - but the defiant part of his mind was growing stronger now. It was becoming clearer... `Hold your own - don't let him think he's won, not now...'

Káno sighed. "Very well," he said heavily, as though Elrond was forcing him to do something he would really rather not. He walked around beyond Elrond's sight, and for a moment, there was silence; Elrond held his breath, waiting for what was to come.

A searing, blinding pain that made yellow stars dance in front of his eyes came down heavily between his shoulder blades, forcing the breath out of his lungs in a strangled cry. The leather tails slashed at his skin as though they were made of fire, scorching his back, and the metal balls collided with dulls thuds on his skin, already leaving large bruising. Ten times Káno hit him, each one timed so that his victim could not collect himself; but Káno had never beaten an Elf before, nor any of that blood, and he underestimated the strength of will that Elrond was gaining by the minute. Determined not to let Káno have the satisfaction of hearing him moan or cry or utter even the merest of breaths, he bit his lip and squeezed his eyes shut, kleepign his breathing deep and steady.

Káno paused now, and walked around to face Elrond again.

"I ask you again," he said casually; "Who is your Master?"

Gathering all the returning strength he had, Elrond did a very unwise and foolish thing; he spat at Káno's feet.

"I am no one's slave," he muttered, "And I will never bow to you!"

Káno's voice dropped to a dangerous level and he stooped to look Elrond in the eye. His emerald depths were ablaze with cold fury, and he grasped Elrond's chin roughly, forcing him to keep eye contact.

"What did you say?"

"I am Elrond, son of Eärendil, born of the Free Peoples, and I will never, ever bow to you!"

Káno shook his head as he stood up.

"Dear, dear me..." he said calmly, though there was a malicious bite in his words; "Your manners have clearly declined. Perhaps you need a lesson in politeness, and recognition of your betters and superiors..."

Elrond did not reply but set his jaw and prepared himself for the worst. In truth, he had no idea just how much of this he could take; but he swore to himself now, he would defy all Káno did to him and die free if it meant doing so.

Káno composed himself, standing at Elrond's back. The skin was an angry red from the few blows it had been dealt, but was no where near drawing blood yet. Káno smirked - perhaps this elf could be fun to toy with after all...

He began thrashing at Elrond's back with hard, heavy strokes, all the time keeping up a rhythm, pounding relentlessly into the soft flesh. He was careful not to wear himself out though - word had it that elves took far longer to break than mortals...

At first, Elrond was able to stay his strength as he had done before hand. He focused as clearly as he could on the hazy outlines of his father and brother in his mind, bit his tongue, and tried desperately block out the pain that was coursing through his back. He could do this; he could keep it up... Yet as each moment passed with lash after lash after lash, Elrond felt his will beginning to wane, and try as he might, he could not keep his breath from speeding up, occasionally escaping his lips in soft sighs, almost inaudible to Káno's ears.

This did not please the commander. This did not please him one bit. But now, the brat should have been screaming in pain at his feet, begging for him to stop - not holding out against him!!! Káno stopped his beating for a few moments, his cheeks a little flushed from the exertion. Elrond's back was bleeding openly now, though not enough for his liking...There must be something that could break his will, something easily within his grasp...

He snapped his fingers; the witch! She was bound to have something hidden in those stores of hers that would shatter the iron fortress Elrond has so hastily built up. Giving the young man a swift kick in the ribs that made him cough sharply, Káno tore into the little screened area. The red headed woman was nowhere to be seen - yet that bothered him little, she came and went as she pleased anyhow. But somewhere around here was were witches potions and spells; a quick glance showed him to be right, for sure enough, between her bed and the hanging was a largish leather bag, full to the brim. A malevolent smile creeping to his lips, he knelt and ripped it open, shifting through the bottles until he found something he recognised; he didn't want to kill the elf-brat, after all; there was still much fun to be had. At last, he came across a glass bottle with a stopper, in side of which swirled an innocent golden liquid, light as air, twinkling like the dust in sunlight. Perfect...

In moments, he was behind Elrond again; the young man had not moved form his position on the floor, but his breathing was slightly steadier again. Not for long, smirked Káno, and quickly unstopped the bottle.

"Do you know what this is?" he breathed in Elrond's ear, leaning against his bleeding back. Elrond did not answer, but gritted his teeth and shut his eyes tightly.

"The witches use it to guard their homes, to ward off evil spirits; while the more practical of the world use its purposes for driving dogs mad before they are set upon the boar in the ring," he cackled softly, his hot breath warming Elrond's neck, though he shuddered. "I have heard tell that its creation with open wounds is... Unbearable. I know of men who would fight till the last who have wept like maids under its influence. Yet, I have never heard of its use on an Elf - what say you that we amend that oversight?"

When Elrond once again didn't answer, Káno laughed out loud, a hideous, spine chilling mirthless sound, and Elrond trembled at it; anything that could bring such joy to this creature was sure to be his undoing.

Still chuckling to himself, Káno pulled out a thick, dragon hide glove to protect his hand - no point in putting himself at risk. Carefully, he poured the liquid onto an old rag, making sure to saturate the cloth so that it dripped freely; then with harsh movements, he began scrubbing as hard as he could into the bleeding welts on his victim's back.

Elrond screamed - he could not help it. The sound was ripped forcefully from his lips, torn from his lungs as all illusions of strength fled him in the merest of moments. Káno rejoiced in the shrill noise, and grinning rubbed harder, making sure the poison entered every gash. Before long, Elrond was no longer in control of his emotions or his body; his frame was racked with retching motions, rocking backwards and forwards uncontrollably, and his screams sped from the hall, echoing in the surrounding hills for miles. He could not breathe; the air caught in half sobs in his throat, choking him.

"Pl - please!" he begged, unable to stop himself, "Please, d-don't!"

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you there," murmured Káno cruelly, and brought the bottle up again - to hell with the cloth, it was only getting in the way!

"No - n-no, please - pl-please!" his sobbed, his broken spirit trying desperately to flee its tormented vessel, yet unable to go.

"You will beg for death before I am finished!" roared the commander, and emptied the entire contents of the bottle down onto Elrond's back.

The half elf shrieked and cried in pain; such unimaginable, unrelenting pain! He could not take this, he could not do it - he was too consumed by its fiery grip now that he was beyond any form of shame.

The bottle was empty now; but Káno knew he would need no more. Perhaps another flogging would drive the message home, once and for all.

Without warning, he sprang to his feet and once more began ruthlessly flailing at Elrond's back, his eyes alight with cold fire, the leather thong slicing mercilessly into the boy's flaring skin.

Tears streamed down Elrond's face, unchecked and unmarked, soaking the pillows below him.

"I b-beg you!" he choked. "I - I - pl-please!"

Káno merely cackled insanely as he beat him.

"No - no!"


For the second time that night, Nesial stumbled out of the memory of Elrond, but she was blinded by tears. Throwing herself from the evil thoughts, she landed back in the red lighted corridor in a sobbing heap of guilt and sorrow, screwing herself up into a ball as she wept into her chest. She... She had caused that! The potion, it had been hers, it was her fault! Shame coursed like ice and fire all at once through her veins; for she knew of the torture that Káno had tormented the elf with - she knew it well. And there was no other spell, enchantment or curse upon the earth that could rival the evil of what he had done; of what she had done...

She couldn't do this. She was powerful, but not this much so. She couldn't deal with this. She just couldn't. It was far beyond any skills that she yet possessed.

Even as she began to think these despairing thoughts, the corridor around her seemed to grow hazy and shadowy, fading back into nothingness, and then into the orange hued light of the hall.

Gasping for breath, she fell backwards onto the cushioned floor, her chest heaving as air fought its way into her burning lungs, and her stomach threatened to hurl its non existent contents upwards, and she felt acidic bile rise in her throat.

"I was wondering when you would be done," a lazy voice drawled from behind her. She did not even bother to look around.

"What - did - you - do?" she ground out, her jaw refusing to work.

"Oh, I believe you've already seen that..." came the off-hand reply.

"I hate you," she spat at his feet, spinning onto her side.

"I assure you, the feeling is entirely mutual," he sneered.

"If I cannot bring him back, you will have lost your chance!"

"Do not throw empty threats at me, witch," he warned, "I know your magic enough to know you lie. I do not need him here with us; he is better handled this way."

"And I suppose you only have his best interests at heart?" growled Nesial sarcastically.

"Of course - now leave him. I suggest you get some rest my dear - only three days to go now, and I believe you are going to be rather busy..."

With strong, rough hands, he grabbed her arms and yanked her to her feet, pulling her face so close it was only millimetres away.

"Do not cross me, Carandol," he threatened, his eyes glaring and narrowed. "I will not take incompetence or arrogance, least of all from a pathetic wench like you."

Nesial wisely chose not to respond, but the fury in her face spoke volumes.

"Go now - and do not trouble me any more this day. I may not be able to contain my wrath so well..." With that, he shoved her outside and towards the door. Before the hanging swung closed, Nesial caught one last glimpse of Elrond, kneeling at Káno's feet; a helpless prisoner once more to his own impending doom.


Dun, dun, DUH!!!!!!!! Okay, I should really stop putting sarcastic comments after endings like that... Meh, why break the hobbit of a lifetime?
>cringes at awful pun<

Well, as I mentioned earlier, I'm really looking forward to writing the next chapter - and me thinks its also about time we started to learn a little more about Nesial herself, don't you?
>no response<
Well, I do, so that's what ya'll gonna get ,_,
Please review!
Loadsa love, Estel xxx

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