Layiwen was regaining consciousness a bit slower than she had lost it. Her body was one big ache, but her head hurt the worst, that, and her pride. She opened her eyes to see a dark, dirty cell. How typical, she thought as she righted herself. When the dizziness subsided, she looked around the musty interior, eyes stopping on an inert form at the farthest reach of her vision.
“Deliphy,” She croaked, and slowly crawled her way over. Rolling Deliphy onto her back, Layiwen gently slapped her cheeks in an effort to revive her. It worked. Deliphy sprang to life, flinging Layiwen away from her, and grabbing for a sword that wasn’t there.
“Who?…What?” She stuttered, and then recognition came to her face. “By Eru Layiwen! You scared me half to death!”
“Sorry,” Layiwen said meekly.
“Ow, my head.” Deliphy moaned, sinking back into the straw.
“Yeah, I know how you feel,” Layiwen said empathetically. A few moments passed as each assessed their hurts.
“So where do you think we are anyway?” Deliphy asked, breaking the silence.
Layiwen shrugged, “Well we’re in a dark, filthy dismal cell. I’d say that narrows it right down, wouldn’t you?” she said, raising an eyebrow.
Vicious retorts and laughter warred in Deliphy’s mind. Laughter won out, warming the cold cell.
“Ah, good,” a new voice said, putting the chill back in the air. Deliphy and Layiwen whirled to see a dark figure in the doorway, a doorway which seconds before had not been there. “It has been so long since the sound of female laughter has graced these halls,” the stranger continued.
“Who are you?” Layiwen snarled.
“I am called Durndil.” He said, obviously amused by her anger. ” But soon I shall be known as Lord Durndil, when I make all of Middle Earth mine.”
“And just how do you think you’re going to do that?” Deliphy retorted. Durndil made a quick flick of his wrist and a white ball of light suddenly appeared in his hand, illuminating his face. Layiwen and Deliphy gasped in unison, for the man was beautiful enough to be the offspring of the Valar!
“Oh, that part is very simple,” Durndil said softly, menacingly. “You’re going to help me.”
“Okay, let me get this straight.” Aldariel said sarcastically. “There’s a magical stone, and there’s a dead guy who’s not really dead who wants to use the stone’s power to rule Middle Earth, but only three elves can bring the stone to life. Did I miss anything?”
” They’re…. um…Elven maidens.” Farand said weakly.
“Whatever,” Aldariel said, rolling her eyes.
They had left camp earlier that morning and were now on horseback riding Southwest to where Durndil’s former Tower had been. They had left the wounded behind with most of Farand’s soldiers guarding them. Well, almost all the wounded. Aldariel let her eyes trail to her right. Legolas had surprised everyone on the eve of the journey by pronouncing himself fit to ride. Aldariel had serious doubts about that, but so far Legolas hadn’t complained, although Aldariel heard him hiss and saw him wince from time to time.
At the present, Legolas was staring straight ahead, lost in his thoughts. He’s probably thinking about Deliphy…, Aldariel stopped that thought before it went any further. Now was not the time to be focusing on such things. Aldariel turned her attention back to Farand.
“Okay,” she conceded, “Even if this so-called prophecy is true, what makes you think that Deliphy, Layiwen, and I are the ones it’s speaking of?” Farand shrugged.
“I have no clue, but Durndil obviously thinks you’re the ones.” Hearing the last, Legolas seemed to wake up. He brought his horse closer so he could talk.
“Is there anything that the three of you have that sets you apart from others? Have there been any special events in your lives?” He asked. Aldariel closed her eyes for a moment, mentally sifting through her memories. Suddenly her eyes snapped open and her face turned white. She reached up to her neck and drew out a necklace from under her cloak. The necklace was delicately wrought of silver and adamant, and at its center was placed a small, ordinary looking blue stone. Aldariel’s face showed she no longer disbelieved.
“In the year of our three hundredth birthdays, Grandmother Galadriel called us to see her. She said that she had something special to give us. She handed an identical necklace each to Layiwen, Deliphy, and me. She said that the stones were the keys to Middle Earth, and that only the three of us could unlock it.” Aldariel said. “At the time, we didn’t know what to believe, but we’ve worn these necklaces ever since.”
Legolas’ face darkened “And somehow, Durndil must feel the power from these stones,” he sighed.
Aldariel started, “but that would mean…”
“Yes,” Legolas said gravely, “That would mean that he’s been plotting to get you ever since the day you got the stones.”
Deliphy’s face showed her anger. “I think you’ve got the wrong girls,” she spat, “What makes you think we would help you?”
Durndil chuckled. “Oh, you will,” he said, and turned to leave.
“Hey! Come back here!” Layiwen yelled, but he paid her no heed. The door slid back into place, once again transforming the appearance of the wall to that of seamless layers of bricks. Layiwen sat back down with a sigh. “What do you think he meant by all that?”
“I don’t know,” Deliphy answered, voice betraying her concern, “but I’m pretty sure it can’t be good.” Layiwen looked at her friend in surprise. Deliphy rarely worried about anything.
“Well,” Layiwen said to get her mind off the subject. ” I’m going to look for a way to get out of this place.” Deliphy brightened considerably at the thought.
“I’ll help you.” Layiwen knew why Deliphy had volunteered. This was something to do at a time when they couldn’t really DO anything. Layiwen pushed her aching body into a standing position again.
“There’s got to be an opening in here somewhere,” she commented, “We wouldn’t be able to breathe in here if there wasn’t.” Deliphy nodded her agreement.
“I think I can feel some air coming from over there.” In the dim light, Layiwen could just make out Deliphy’s hand pointing to her left. Layiwen carefully strode over to the left wall. Starting as far as she could reach on the upper left side, Layiwen ran her hands along the wall, feeling for any openings. Deliphy was doing the same thing starting at the other end. When Layiwen had covered a fourth of the wall, she heard Deliphy calling her.
“I think I’ve found something!” Layiwen ran over.
“Where?” she asked.
“Up there,” Deliphy pointed where Layiwen was quite sure they could never reach. “I can feel air coming from up there, and I think I can see an opening,” Deliphy said.
“Great,” Layiwen sighed.
“Hey,” Deliphy said, “If we work together we might be able to reach it.”
“You mean…” Layiwen raised her eyebrows.