The Witchking Cronicles - The Ford of Bruinen

There is something about a chase, about the immediacy of thought and action, that rises like a wind to draw back the veil of darkness.

Beneath my my horse flies like the eastern wind, the wrap of the garments shading my emptiness fluttering wildly with the speed of our passing. There are five of us; five dark racers and wraiths of doom, each a single letter together spelling out 'death'. For ven as the Ringbearer flies from us on his fleet Elven steed, he becomes closer to us through the wound on his shoulder.

I could almost pity him--oh how I could pity him, bound by that Thing he carries to the same fate that I am bound. One of us is mounted on black and one on white, but in essence we are the same--two knights on the chessboard, facing against each other perhaps, but with our moved the same. But I have five knights beside me, and four more sweep in close, while he is only one.

The river foams and flashes about the feet of his white stallion. Drops are thrown hither and yon haphazardly, as easily cast aside as the lives of men or orcs. Every move by a knight can cost or gain a thousand pawns.

It is time to fork the knight and the king.

We halt then, two forces both joined and separated by that short breadth of water, that elven-water that shimmers faintly in the world of shadows. We are the nine, united and unbreakable in our strength, in the strengths of our Rings and of the One. The will of our fear crests down upon him.

And I had thought him strong on Weathertop, he who now pathetically tries to push us back, a strand of cobweb fluttering on a dark and dreary wind. His voice is thin as a broken reed, and in anger at our sealed fates and his own despair in joining us we laugh and mock him.

The battle is over. His will is no stronger than his whispers, the Ring drawing him back to us. We call out to it; "The Ring! The Ring!" we chant, called by its power, a line running through all the wisps of our beings and securing us to the Ring for all less eternity.

So weak, and yet he does not give in. "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair," he managed, his words shining sparks of light flaring in our darkness, "you shall have neither the Ring nor me!"

But it is his last effort; what black mood or anger took me then I do not know. Another shadow in a world of darkness I stand, rising, one fell black hand of power lifting to silence and to command, even as the knight crossed the river and entered the enemy's land.

That pale blade he had so brandished snapped in twain, and with it whatever fading scrap of will remained. I urge the black horse forward, moving in for the checkmate, glorified and abased as well in my closeness to the Ring, to my goal. My one hope for freedom, and the source of my despair.

Which it is, I do not know. For already the rising tide of the elves comes to sweep me away, as I knew it would. So close, and yet so far; the elves stand like rooks along the corners of the board, moving in swiftly and suddenly and shining in their light. He stands behind me now, an elf-lord revealed in all his power, but that is nothing to me, for I know I am caught in the path of the rising flood. I will return, formless again, to my world of shadows, coming so close and yet never close enough to acheiving that goal--is it mine, or is it only the call of my Ring to His? The light of that elven river I could not bear.

Would I ever see such light again, and in seeing not turn away?

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