Morelen nodded to the woman and swiftly left the kitchen, her palms sweaty and her breath caught painfully in her chest. Despite being frightened out of her mind, her appearance was calm and almost sultry. The outfit she wore was most becoming and she caught the interested glances of many young men – though she was quite disgusted by it.
Find Haydar…look interested…don’t let him know you’re afraid. Don’t let him know you’ve got poison in your pocket.
Her heart and mind were racing but the only thing that could possibly indicate this was the terrified look in her large brown eyes. She thought of her captured friends beneath her feet and found her strength.
Upon finding Haydar she managed a weak smile. His dark eyes were sparkling in a wicked manner and Morelen felt sick to her stomach. Still, she maintained her composure.
“My dark lily,” he said in his silky voice, motioning towards her garments. “You were made to wear clothes like these.”
Try to keep the angry retorts to a minimum girl,Morelen reminded herself.Deciding on what to do next, she thought, What I really want to know is why he’s taken me out of the cellar and gotten me all dressed up…I feel like a play doll. Should I ask? No…better let him make the first move…
She sat there silently, watching the bustling men and women around her. The ladies were dressed similarly to her, but most of them were not nearly as shy or reserved as she. Their tops came down dangerously low and their eyes gleamed with a seductive, playful spark. Morelen felt like a blade of grass among roses. But she tried to play the part as best she could, relaxing her rigid shoulders and letting her head tip to one side in an appealing, girlish manner.
“You’re probably wondering,” Morelen watched in horror as Haydar poured himself a glass from a tall, intricately designed wine bottle, “Why you have been summoned from your dark and gloomy cellar.”
She did not reply, merely letting her eyes stab him with their intensity. Next time. Once he is a little fuzzy from the wine, I shall change my demeanor and become more brazen with him; he will think nothing of it. Then, I will offer to pour him a drink, and slip in the Musafer. Ai, I fear I shall not last this night…
“Indeed you are curious; I see it in your eyes. Well, to be honest, I have brought you here because I wish to talk to you; to perhaps understand you better.”
His voice was like poisoned honey, and the double meaning of his words were not lost on her, much to her distress.
“Why do want to know me better, my lord?” She asked, praying fervently that he did not note the tremor in her voice.
“You are my captive; it is always best to understand the mind of the enemy.”
“But my lord,” she could not rein in her tongue, “why am I the enemy? How have I wronged you?”
He took a sip from the wine and then turned from her, pouring her a glass. A little relieved that the alcohol would relax her, she took the silver chalice and held it lightly in her hand. Taking a sip of it after allowing her nostrils to take in its inviting scent, she tried not to cough and sputter. The stuff was sweet, very delicious, but also incredibly strong.
I will not last long with this stuff, if he is to refill my glass. And he is probably accustomed to this drink; I, certainly, am not.
“You are a pretty girl, Morelen; have you known many men?”
Now she almost sputtered both from the wine and the bold question. Now she knew why he wanted her with him; he was the cat playing with the trapped mouse; knowing its victory was at hand and yet prolonging the inevitable, toying with the victim’s hope. For this, she truly hated him.
“Why does my lord wish to know?” She answered his question with a question, hoping to buy herself some more time.
That’s it, have another glass, Haydar.
“Did I not just tell you the reason for my question? Relax, woman, this is not an interrogation.” Smoothly he slid into the seat beside her, his warmth making her extremely uncomfortable.
Relax, Morelen, relax!
And so she did; she relaxed. She flipped her hair nonchalantly and laughed at some witty word he used, letting the tenseness in her muscles lessen.
——————-Four or five drinks later——————-
The night wore on, the pungent smell of ladies perfume now lessening its almost overpowering scent. Morelen sat languidly beside Haydar, listening to him rant about some great feat he had accomplished, all the while wishing for the moment when she could put the poison in his cup. As she well understood, she was far from immune to the wine’s effects. Her speech slowed down significantly and her actions became much bolder, more suggestive, at times. She was appalled at herself, but eventually her inhibitions slowly died away. Haydar had no problems with this, of course.
His mouth was near her ear, and she felt his hot breath gently caress the side of her face. Instinctively she received his charms, tipping her neck slightly.
“Mairay reshmi zulfay,” he murmured like a snake in her ear, “teri zanzeer…”
She had no desire to understand what he said to her, but nevertheless her heart skipped a beat and she felt her face become hot. Let him talk…just don’t tip him off to your plan. You’re an actress right now…play the part…
“Mmm,” She hummed contentedly, “your voice feels wonderful on my neck…”
BY THE VALAR, WHAT AM I SAYING? PLAY THE PART…PLAY THE PART…
“Then you shall have my voice on your neck, for as long as you like,” He whispered into the crook of her neck, letting his lips barely brush her skin. She tried not to gag, feeling her skin tingle.
“Come with me–“
“One more drink, my lord.” She cut him off, knowing exactly the words that would have come out of his mouth.
“As you wish,” Haydar nodded, the chalice still in hand. She gently removed it and let her fingers gently brush his, sending a warm signal through her gaze. He read her perfectly and his chest swelled with a sigh of physical restraint, his eyes locked with hers.
She turned from him and her hands trembled, even with all the wine she had drunk.
Steady, inconspicuous, it’s just a glass of wine…
Quickly she poured the entire contents of the jar into the glass, shoved the empty container back into her pocket, and poured the wine. Turning voluptuously while flashing him a dazzling smile, she walked over to him and handed him the drink. He took it from her and took a long, hard sip of the beverage.
YES! Okay, calm down, this is far from over. Now make him want to take you to a bedroom…where you can hide him…right
Cozying up to him, their faces inches apart, she whispered, “You know, have I ever told you what handsome eyes you have? I fear they have captured me, my lord.” Her voice was low and exotic, and she adroitly batted her long eyelashes.
He nuzzled the side of her neck with his mouth, breathing heavily.
He had downed about half the glass and she felt no change of pace in his movements. Is half a glass enough to take him out? I think it’s going to have to be…he looks done here…
He reached under her legs and just as he had done earlier that night, he swept her up off her feet and carried her away. They passed many laughing girls and men on their way, several of which threw Haydar knowing glances as he took her through a dark hallway.
Oh Elbereth, where am I? How will I know where the exit is from a new place?
Trying desperately to follow her surroundings and understand how to get back, she saw Haydar kick a door open. The room was dark with one window above a bed. The room almost matched the one she had been thrown in earlier, except this one had no chest in the corner.
He threw her unceremoniously on the bed and watched her crawl backwards toward the headboard, her dark eyes wide.
His rumbling laughter only served to startle her more and she prayed, Elbereth, come on poison, WORK! PLEASE!
But it did not work. Seeing him this close to her made her suddenly realize his age. He was not as young as he seemed. Lines of age had been drawn in his face, but his strength still far outmatched hers. Small silver hairs stuck out from his black hair and she abruptly wondered his true age. He attempted to kiss her, but remembering that she had just poisoned him she lifted her head at the last minute.
Suddenly, much to her curiosity, his eyes took on a pained look and he turned his head to cough. More than a little anxious, her hands began to tremble and her jaw was clenched, waiting for the musafer to kick in.
Ai Elbereth, please, please let it work…
His eyelids fluttered and suddenly his breathing became intensely labored. His eyes closed and his breathing stopped. Morelen leapt off of him and shivered, thinking of what had almost been. Seeing his lifeless form on the ground made her feel sick to her stomach, but she told herself that she didn’t have time for it. She needed to get out of there, and fast.
Quickly she took the empty bottle and threw it out the window, hearing it smash on the ground outside.
Running out of the room and closing the door behind her, she walked nonchalantly out, passing other men and women who looked more interested in each other than in her, much to her relief.
Finding her way back to the cellar, she looked around her for any onlookers before kicking open the wooden latch. She would have to do this quickly, before anyone else came and saw what looked like a whore talking to a few prisoners.
They heard her enter but did not speak, fearing it was Haydar again.
“It’s alright; it’s me.” She whispered, running over to them and removing their blindfolds.
Shaking their heads and blinking, they saw her and Elboron said, “Morelen? What–“
“Please, there’s no time – we have to get out of here.”
“Are you alright?” Legolas asked weakly.
“I’m fine, Legolas.”
She managed to remove their binds and quickly usher them outside.
Looking around, she heard voices and feet moving, but judging from the sounds it did not seem like they were approaching.
Forget the door, she thought, a window would do just fine right about now. There’s no way the four of us are going to be able to get out of here without being caught.
Seeing a vacant window, she thought sadly, Aye, there’s no way Gimli would fit through that.She cursed silently under her breath.
Whispering to Legolas, Morelen said, “There’s an unguarded exit down the hall there and to the right. There’s a flight of stairs that go down and into a room next to the cellar we were just in. It’s our only chance.” Wondering why in the world she should trust the old woman, she told him of the alleged secret exit, and prayed to Elbereth that the crone was true to her word.
Nodding, his ageless eyes took on a hard glint as he searched their surroundings for a possible threat.
“Morelen,” Legolas mouthed soundlessly, “Go ahead in front.” After all, she almost looked like she belonged there and also, she had seen more of the layout than her comrades.
Quicker than they had expected, they found the staircase and Legolas’ head jerked up, a mortified look in his pale eyes.
He hissed, “Hurry! Someone’s coming!”
Before the person could see them, they were already down the stairs, running as fast as their tired legs would carry them. They all hoped that the person who saw them shut the door was inebriated enough to miss the significance of it.
Bursting out of the door, Gimli shouted coarsely, “Horses! We need horses!”
They quickly turned around the building and found the stables, but there wasn’t a horse to be found; only camels.
“Grab one, quick!” Gimli shouted and they all managed to mount the animals without too much difficulty. They sat much taller than a regular horse and it was awkward at first, but they easily adjusted. Not knowing where they were headed, they urged the creatures forward into what could have almost been considered a gallop, trying to get them to go as fast as was humanly possible.
The sun was rising in the east, a large scimitar of radiant fire, but they did not stop; faster and faster they rode, feeling the cool air rushing past them and their captors, as well.
They rode until they could ride no more, and collapsed in the sand, caring naught but that they had escaped; they were free. At least for the present moment…