A/N: I do not own Middle Earth. I think you know that. And thanks to my lovely reviewers, and to my mom for beta reading. And also to Diana Wynne Jones for the book Hexwood.
And awaking, I remember,
What in sleep I had forgot,
The haunting and the falling,
What is now and what is not.
I was unconscious, I knew that quite clearly. I was – dreaming? But it was very strange. I was walking on a path, through a peaceful green wood. I had not dreamed anything like this for so long. Almost always I saw darkness, fire and stone. And if not, then it was home. But home gone incredibly wrong.
The forest was completely silent. I stopped, confused. There should be sound.
I tried to remember what had happened. I didn’t know. Was everything going to start over again?
I slowly dragged myself into consciousness. My body and mind were leaden with an incredible weariness. I was lying on stone, I realized. Where? I forced my eyelids open. There was dark, uncut rock above me. So I wasn’t back in Minas Tirith, I realized. I had half-expected to be.
I carefully rolled over and found the source of the voice. Taurion was seated a few feet away, leaning against the rock face and watching me with his usual unreadable expression. I realized that his cloak was once again draped over me. “What happened?”
“You blacked out,” he answered. “The Orcs saw the disguises drop and gave chase. Once I got off the road they missed us in the dark. You’ve been unconscious about half a day. It’s well past noon.”
“Oh.” I managed with an struggle to sit up. “You carried me?”
He shrugged. “Did you expect me to leave you there?” The question was rhetorical and I did not answer, until he spoke again. “How do you feel? For a time I was not sure that you would wake.”
I leaned back against the stone, and flinched as a sharp angle dug into my bruised back. “I will survive. I have been drained, and will not be able to work magic for a time. But it will pass.”
“But are you injured beyond that?” Taurion asked.
“Nothing that won’t heal,” I said shortly. “I am well used to pain and am capable of working through it.”
“If you say so,” Taurion answered evenly. “You should sleep while there is time. We’ll need to move during the night.”
I nodded an assent and lay back down, ignoring my various injuries. I was still so weary that I very soon drifted to sleep.
* * * * *
It was almost night when I awoke. I could feel that some of my strength had returned, though I was still weak.
“How are you?” Taurion asked. He was sitting in almost the exact same position as before.
I sat up. “Better, but still drained. We should set out soon. The sun is nearly down.”
“Aye.” Taurion looked up at the sliver of sky visible between the ravine walls. He opened a pack and handed me a piece of travel bread. I nodded my thanks and took it, biting off a corner and chewing it tiredly. Now that I had time to think about it, I realized how happy I was to be out of Minas Tirith. No, not happy – I was glad to be out of that fortress of Morgoth, but the memory of the abhorrant darkness there would haunt me, I knew. And still, we were far from being out of Gorthaur’s territory. There was a definite chance that we would be recaptured. But if not? What after – if – we escaped, away from all of the stone and the darkness and the fire? Where would I go? I could be free, but what would that mean? I could not go home. I could not bear for the ones I loved to know, to know who and what I was. Perhaps – just perhaps – they could forgive me, but I could not forgive myself. I’d just think that they loved the memory of me, and perhaps that would be enough.
It was fully dark by then, and I could see a few stars shining. They were obscurely comforting – the same distant points of light that I had always known. I gazed at them thoughtfully, remembering. When I was very young, my brother, delighted to teach someone smaller than himself, had pointed out all of Varda’s stars, Lumbar, Liunil, Carnel, and the Valacirca shining in the north. “And you know, Indil, they’re the same light as Telperion and Laurelin, that Amme and Atar saw in Valinor. See the seven stars up there in a curved line? That’s the Valars’ Sickle. Varda set it there as a challenge to Morgoth-“
Morgoth. That name brought me back to the bitter reality that I had, for a moment, almost forgotten. Morgoth and his fallen.
“Are you ready to go?” I came out of my thoughts to find Taurion waiting for an answer. I nodded, and found handholds in the rock above me. I pulled myself upright, though it was a struggle. Taurion was wise enough not to help me.
I took off his cloak and held it out to him. He raised his eyebrows. “Are you sure you don’t need it?”
“Yes!” I snapped. In my frightening weakness even its slight added weight was too much. The sword slung at my back and the pack at my side were almost more than I could carry.
Taurion accepted the cloak, and we set out southwest, following the line of the Crissaegrim. It was dark, and the ground was broken. We had to be constantly wary of the creatures in Morgoth’s service that roamed the land.
We had barely gone a league before I felt as drained as when I had first awoken. But I pushed myself on, resolved to leave Tol-en-Gaurhoth far behind. I wanted to be out of any place that was even faintly tainted by Morgoth. I wanted to be free. To go home. But to do that would be impossible; I wasn’t the same, they would not even know me. But I kept going, doggedly stumbling on in the darkness.
Lights appeared on the road, about two furlongs away, and we dropped behind a boulder. A strange sense of surreality was coming over me again. I was so tired that I felt lightheaded.
The last glimmer of the torches disappeared along the road, and I staggered to my feet. My vision was swimming. I stumbled, and Taurion caught me as I started to fall. “There’s no point in escaping if you kill yourself doing it, Morien,” he said. “You can’t go on like this. We’ll take a rest.”
I was too exhausted to contest the delay.
Pleasem please pleeeeeeeeeeeease review! I thrive on comments! They inspire me to prolific writing and great flights of genius! (Well, maybe not quite, but still………..)