Gandalf glanced around carefully, leading the way. The last thing the group needed was a detour.
“Erquellewen, are you okay?” Legolas asked. Lief and Mithwethiel glanced in her direction.
“Of course, Legolas, I just have a minor headache…” Erquellewen sighed. “How many times are you going to ask that?”
“I’m just worried about you,” Legolas said. “You’re my good friend, and anyways, you don’t look too good.”
“Well, I could use a ten minute rest, but really, it’s okay,” Erquellewen said. “I don’t need to delay the group. And I’m not the only one you should be worried about.” The elf looked over at Lief and Mithwethiel, who were now staring at her, worried looks on their faces.
“Ever since I gave you that Jewel, Erquellewen,” Mithwethiel said, looking at the ground, and finally breaking her gaze, “I’ve been so worried that it would finally get to you. This whole journey thing, I mean. I know that you’re not too big of a fan of fighting. But we can’t help it. Just listen to me. Maybe we should take a short rest.”
“No!” Erquellewen replied quickly. “Really, I’m okay. Let’s just get this journey over with. The sooner we finish it off, the sooner we get to head home.”
“I guess you’re right, but we’ll finish faster if we rest, and you’re ready,” said Mithwethiel.
“I’ll stop for five minutes at the most. I’m just a little hungry…”
“GANDALF!” Lief hissed. He didn’t want to attract enemies. “Erquellewen needs a short rest.”
Gandalf nodded and motioned to the group to pull of to the side of the road. Everyone did as they were told and sat on boulders and logs, that stained the side of the road.
As Erquellewen pulled her lembas out of her sack, she felt a shudder of heat around her neck.
She pulled the burning chain out from under her collar. The Amethyst glowed with a shining, bright light.
“Put that back!” Aragorn said, rushing over to Erquellewen and tucking the Jewel back under her shirt. “We don’t need Japool knowing where we are. He lives in that cave that we passed earlier. He can see everything below from up there.”
“Oh… sorry,” Erquellewen said, blushing with embarresment.
“It’s okay, but you’re lucky we’re on the other side of the Mountain.” Aragorn walked back to his meal and sat down.
“Fetch me my meal!” Japool roared, his voice ringing through the cave. He had just recieved news that the companions had nearly reached their destination. “Since my warriors aren’t smart enough to get their armour on, I’ll get my own troops together and go out there to stop them myself.”
“Sir,” a warrior said, his voice shaking, “we just didn’t know if you wanted us to go or not… it’s not like we had the courage to ask. I mean, we are cowards-“
“Trying to fess up, huh?” Japool sighed. “Many of you have tried that. But you know what it results in…” He raised his poison stinger, and sliced down at the Spider in front of him.
The warrior dropped to the floor, it’s legs twitching. The other Spiders flinched, but kept moving, since they knew that could happen to them if they stopped.
“Well, where’s my meal?” Japool shouted, as if nothing had happened.
There was a feeling of rush in the air as the workers hurried to their leader.
As the companions traveled further, they heard a loud roar.
“Japool…” Gandalf mumbled. “He is angry. We must hurry. If we fail this quest, who knows what Japool will do?”
“Gandalf is right,” Aragorn said, quickening his pace. “Let us hurry.” Everyone sped up as another roar was heard.
Erquellewen was worried that they would fail, and die trying to do something right.
‘What have I done to deserve this?’ she asked herself. ‘I never wanted to die. Just to finally be known by elves for generations…’
“So how far do we have to travel?” Lief asked, breaking into Erquellewen’s thougts.
“Not too long,” Aragorn said, looking at the map. “Just about fifteen more miles at the least…”
“Yes, but at the LEAST!” Lief said, feeding Kree, his blackbird, a few bread crumbs. He mumbled somethng to the bird. Kree glanced at him, lifted into the air, and took off ahead of the group.
“What was that for?” Mithwethiel asked. “Why did he just take off?”
“He’s going to see if there is danger ahead,” Lief said, trying to explain.
“You can- talk to birds?” Mithwethiel asked. “But you’re only a Human! You’re not an Elf…”
“I grew up with Elves though, kind of like Aragorn,” Lief said. “Now hurry up, we’re falling behind.”
“It’s nice, how he can do that, isn’t it?” Legolas said, trying to get Erquellewen to talk.
” Yes…” Erquellewen said, trailing off into her thoughts again.
‘At least, if I die, I’m with my friends…’
“Mithwethiel’s right,” Legolas said, stopping her from thinking any further. “It’s strange that he isn’t an Elf, but he can talk to animals and birds.”
Just as Erquellewen was about to answer, a strong force hit her from behind.
As she fell to the ground, a loud, deep voice rang through the fields.
“Well, what do we have here?” the voice said. Erquellewen looked up and saw a large monster. It had fangs that dripped with blood as it spoke. I’ts claws were as long as daggers. A chain hang around it’s neck.
And it’s body. It was large, green, and slimey. Spikes ran down it’s back and covered it’s tail. The mouth was large enough to fit two heads into it. It’s feet were not feet, but hooves. And there were no eyes to be seen. It’s mouth was technically it’s whole face.
Erquellewen noticed a man behind the lrage beast, holding it’s chain, as if it were a tame animal. This was the one that spoke, not the beast.
The man was hooded, but his eyes glowed red underneath the cloak. Erquellewen just got a view of his yellow teeth, and his silver hair and beard.
“Gandalf the Grey?” the man said, laughing. “You’re still Grey? I thought by now you’d be on the highest rank.”
“I am Gandalf the White now,” Gandalf said. “And let me guess… you are Barren the Keeper of the Vralls?” Gandalf gestured to the hideous beast.
“Yes, and I also work for Japool,” Barren said, glaring at the group. “I’m guessing you are the group with the Amethyst? The one he is after? The Sacred Amethyst? Yes, I can tell by the girl… Faxten, fetch the girl for me, please.”
The monster, called a Vrall, rush over to Erquellewen, and wrapped it’s sharp claws around her neck. It lifted her into the air and ran back to it’s Master.
Legolas, Lief, Aragorn, Gimili, Mithwethiel, and the Hobbits started throwing weapons at the beast, but they had no effect. Gandalf, who knew the swords, arrows, and stones would not harm the beast, stayed back, muttering a spell under his breath, for he knew only magic could defeat it.
“Save your weapons, you foul scum,” Barren said, holding up a hand and stopping the weapons from flying any farther. “And Gandalf, save your breath, because we are off…”
The hooded man, Barren, turned, his Vrall following him. Erquellewen tried to shriek, but the Vrall was holding her around the neck too tight.
‘So this is my fate?’ she thought. ‘I am to die in the belly of a beast?’