CH. 6: Evil Tidings
Griffin led Rowan down and down many corridors until she was unsure of the way. Gavin appeared suddenly beside her, and took the place of one of the guards with a soft word. There was a strange pity in Gavin’s eyes when he looked at her; Rowan frowned and turned away shuddering.
“Rowan, you need to get out of the City.” He said under his breath. The elf maiden returned a questioning look.
“What do you mean?” She whispered.
Gavin’s glance flitted to Griffin, who didn’t seem to notice their conversation.
“Remember what you said about that rumor?” He asked with a grimace. Rowan didn’t reply. “Well, I fear they think it’s true.”
“They cannot!” She exclaimed. Griffin spun on his heel with a strange light in eyes.
“As a prisoner of this City you must remain silent.” Griffin bored holes into Rowan’s eyes.
“But-” Her face was a mixture of emotions. They couldn’t just call her a prisoner and what? Lock her up somewhere? Her eyes slitted angrily. “You cannot do this.”
Griffin smile mockingly, and stepped towards her until his face was inches from hers.
“What do you plan on doing about it?” He asked.
“You have no right!” She spat as the guards took her arms, forcing her to remain where she was; else she would have walked away in disgust. Griffin’s grin widened.
“Just try me, elf.” He replied, and turning walked away. The other guards half dragged her after him.
“Let me go!” Struggling she glanced quickly at Gavin as the men led her away. “Gavin, please help me!” But even as she said the words he slipped from her view and was gone. * * * * * * *
Legolas stood a while near the blackened citadel, watching where Rowan had left just moments before. His face was grim and his heart pounding as he feared for her- there was something terribly wrong about all of this. And his mind went back over what she had said. . .
“They think we did it.”
He frowned and started after her, running the words over his mind. Glancing backwards, he saw the black smoke still rising from the ruins- they thought the elves did this?
“She could not have meant that.” He whispered, and half ran down the steps. But
there was no sign of her, no soft sound of her footfalls on the rock. And his face fell. But perhaps she was alright. . .
“I fear something evil is astir in their hearts.” A voice said behind him. Legolas nodded without turning. Elladan had the gift foresight, and he also knew something was wrong.
“What will they do, mellonamin?” Legolas asked softly. Elladan was quiet a moment.
“I am not sure.” He replied. Legolas sighed and heard the steady march of soldiers coming around the bend. Instinctively he pulled Elladan to the side behind a stone column that retreated into a dark crevice.
“What are you doing?” Elladan hissed. The blonde haired elf put a finger to his lips as the soldiers appeared, and one shouted:
“Find the others, quickly. They cannot be left to wander around the White City!” A soldier who seemed to be in charge motioned the others up the stairs, and with a quick glance to the side he followed. Legolas stepped out from behind the railing and watched where they had disappeared.
“They will be returning soon; we must find your brother.” Legolas said, and walked hastily down the slant of the walkway, avoiding the fallen rock that lay scattered over the road. His grey cloak rustled against the ground, and he stopped for an instant. Unclasping the green Lorien leaf that he had received so long ago, he dropped his cloak behind some barrels and continued on, attaching the pin to his tunic.
“Let us hope it is not to late. . .” He murmured, and silent as the grave he walked on.
“Griffin you are making a horrid mistake!” Rowan banged a fist against the small prison, it’s iron bars strong and straight. It was an underground prison located below the citadel, and was left untouched in the blast, much to Rowan’s annoyance and surprise. There was no answer to her calls, just an angry glance from the guard.
“This is wrong.” She said, her voice lowered. The guard snorted but didn’t reply. Rowan walked around her tiny cell, looking at the walls, and feeling the cracks. She would never get out of here. The guard watched her intently.
“What, you think you can get out of here?” He asked with a crooked smile, which bothered the elf maiden. She glared at him.
“If you were falsely condemned would you content yourself to life in a prison?” She replied with a snarl. The guard laughed coarsely.
“Well, you won’t get out of here I guarantee it. These walls are solid rock,” He told her, knocking a fist against the wall. “Of course, being an elf you might have “special powers” that I don’t know about.”
Rowan caught the sarcasm right away, but kept her silence: it was pointless to speak. The guard contented himself to the silence as well. Soon all Rowan could hear was the wind blowing easily through the stone hall. She frowned: wind? Looking to her left, where the hall of only three cells ended abruptly in a closed iron door, she didn’t make sense of it. There were no windows, and to her right there was just a dead end. Casually she let her gaze run over floor and ceiling and all walls, but she found no hole. The breeze hit her hair and it swept across her face. It came from her left. Slipping a glance to the guard, he seemed to have committed himself to sleeping on the job, and she quickly walked to the iron bars that connected with the other cells. And then she saw it. . .
Legolas could not find anyone. The streets were empty, the doors all closed. There was traces of dried blood on the path but no stretchers. He furrowed his brow and keeping to the shadows he crept down to the towering gate of the 6th level.
“Guards.” He whispered to himself. There were four soldiers, keeping a wary eye on both sides of the gate. Legolas let out a frustrated sigh and moved forward. Glancing up, the top of the walls had an occasional guard, but not many. Quickly he slipped down a side street and looked at the wall closely. It’s stone was smooth, but there was a crack here and there; maybe enough to scale it. A marching company made him start, but then he realized there were farther away than he deemed.
He slipped his fingers into a crack and pulled up, catching another one with his left hand. It was much harder for his feet to find a hole, so he relied mainly on the strength in his arms and fingers. Slowly but steadily he climbed up, hoping that no guard decided to look up. If they had it would have been disastrous. But no one did, and he reached the top, swinging onto it, and he crouched against the guard wall. Smiling, he watched as the soldier far in front of him didn’t even glance his way. Lucky, he thought, and standing he glanced downwards.
The thick stone walls on his side of the gate were at least 50 feet high- but on the side that went down overlooking the vastness of Minas Tirith it was almost three times that high, if not more. Legolas didn’t falter, the guards could look and see him at any moment. He leapt over the edge, and landed about 10 feet down on a wooden walkway that stretched a little ways over the level beneath it, sitting beside a boarded window. The planks shuddered when Legolas landed on them, but he knew the guards hadn’t heard anything. Glancing down, he saw soldiers marching below, their metal clanking loud enough that he could hear it. It was a long ways down, but he knew Elrohir would be somewhere below. That is, if he found him in time.
Legolas suddenly saw the other elf’s figure appear hundreds of feet below him, just around the corner of the soldiers. Legolas bit his lip as Elrohir seemed oblivious to the fact that at any moment he could be taken prisoner- but thanks be to the Vala the guards headed in a different direction. Legolas wasted no time- he swung his leg over the edge of the wooden beams and lowered himself onto a sagging rooftop that was not far below his dangling feet. He landed and rolled to the side, almost falling into an gaping hole, another consequence of the blast. He breathed heavily, and crawled to the edge, seeing that he had to climb the rest of the way down. With a sigh, he reached out over the 100 foot deep chasm and caught the stone wall opposite him- but his hand slipped, and he found himself falling, falling down as the stony floor rushed up to meet him. . .
* * * * * * *
Elladan waited silently outside the prison: two guards stood casually outside the iron door, drinking ale and talking loudly. The elf reached for a sword that hung loose at his side, comforted by the feel of the cold steel. Their only way out now would be a violent one.
He stepped forward, slipping behind a corner. Strange, he thought; for beneath the black and silver of the guards uniform there was a red sash, mostly hidden underneath their clothes. There was no red on a guard. Frowning, he drew his sword lightly and soundlessly, raising it’s sharp edge to charge. It’s now or never, he thought, and jumped out in front of the guards.
Back in the prison, the hole in the other cell was no wider than a foot or so, but then it sank into the darkness. From her distance, though, she couldn’t tell for sure if it led out of the cell. She hooked her hands around the iron bars that crisscrossed between her cell and the adjacent one. Pulling back, the bars shifted slightly, but other than that they didn’t move. Angrily she let go, and stood again. The guard snored.
Rowan didn’t have much time. The guard sat strangely close, not two feet away- perhaps she could reach the keys that dangled by his belt. No, it wasn’t a belt- Rowan squinted in the dim light. Red? The realization struck her like lightning- the Haradrim had infiltrated Gondor. She crept closer to the dozing man, but other than the red sash she never would have known the difference. Her mind raced: Griffin was high up, perhaps this disaster was ordered by him. . . but no, he would never have had access to the rest of the citadel long enough to set the explosives. She furrowed her brow. Unless, the king helped him. No, king Amrath had no motive, and the queen obviously had nothing to do with it. That left only. . .
“It can’t be Corin.” She whispered, and she felt sick to her stomach. The guard snored again and shifted, drawing Rowan’s attention away from her thoughts.
Suddenly the sound of metal clanged beyond the iron door. A muffled cry rose in the still air, followed by a hard thump, and then silence reigned again. Rowan stole a glance at the guard, who hadn’t moved.
The elf maiden saw Elladan’s head peer through the bars on the door. She quickly put a finger to her lips and motioned to the sleeping soldier. Elladan nodded, and his head disappeared as she heard a low screeching on the other side. Crossing her arms, she could do nothing but wait. Slowly the door creaked open, and Rowan kept a steady eye on the guard- of course, he probably couldn’t raise the alarm anyway.
Quick as lightning Elladan was in, and in elvish silence he crept to the soldier and, with the blunt of his blade, knocked him out.
“Are you ok?” He asked even as he scrambled to get the key.
“Yes- but what’s going on out there?” She asked, “All I hear are soldiers.”
Elladan unlocked the door, and it swung open silently. His face was grim.
“Never mind, I think I know.” She sighed, and stepped out.
Legolas thought fast even as he fell, and just a few feet above the cold stone street his fingers, scraping against the rock, found a handhold. His arms jerked, and pain shot through his shoulders: but he had stopped his fall. Letting go, purposefully this time, his feet found the ground two yards farther down. He rubbed his arms and the pain lessened a bit, and with a quick glance to the side he started walking in the direction where he prayed Elrohir was.
* * * * * * *
Elrohir sauntered down the street at a slow pace, confused and alone. For some reason his spirit was darkened, and he found the soldiers of Minas Tirith had become threatening towards him, even violent. So he kept his distance. But now he could find no one on the streets, not even the wounded who he had so helpfully been tending. It was strange, the silence: unnatural and intimidating. The elf could barely recall the days when there was Light in the City.
Forgetting where he was for a minute, Elrohir rounded a corner and walked straight into a soldier.
“Hey!” The guard yelled and clumsily drew his sword. Unfortunately for the elf, he had also caught the attention of a passing company. Elrohir shoved the guard away and ran, the dozen or so soldiers pursuing with clanking armor. His elvish sprint quickly left the men in the dust, but he knew it wouldn’t be long before the whole city was after him. Slowing slightly, his eyes scanned the empty court.
“Over here.” A young man peered his bandaged head out of a door, and waved a hand. Elrohir hesitated a moment, but as the heavy footfalls of his pursuers became louder and louder he made up his mind, and slipped inside the stone house.