The Seerganash elves led Rowen down more winding passages for hours. At first they were great corridors, but the hallways soon became more tunnel like as they descended. At one level, the ground flattened out and opened up to a room. It had a relatively high ceiling, but the walls were flat and damp. Unlike most of the chambers of the fiery place, this cavern was filled with water on both sides, leaving only a slimy thin path in between. Somewhere in the dim, blue-lit cavern, water dripped steadily. Upon entering this room, Rowen dug her heels into the stone and refused to move forward. A wild look crossed her golden eyes and a spasm of insanity flitted across her face as she stared at the water. The elves tugged at her, but she resisted. The leader in front looked back. “What is the trouble?”
“She will not cross the water,” the other elf answered him. The leader walked back and smacked Rowen hard across the back of the neck. She sank to the ground.
“Pick her up and carry her across.”
Rowen woke up later (it was impossible to tell whether it was night or day) to the sound of many voices. She was in a dungeon, barred and locked, somewhere extremely deep underground, even farther down then the cavern with water in it. The voices spoke in Seerganash, so Rowen could not understand, but she figured they were bringing something in. A few minutes later a slender figure was shoved roughly into the cell next to Rowen. The elves locked the figure’s door and left the chamber. The door closed behind them and all light was shut off. In the blackness, the figure heard Rowen scuffling around, then pulling something into her cell. A spark of gold flashed, and then a flame blazed in an explosion of light into the dark chamber. The light illuminated Rowen’s dark face. In her hand blazed a torch, shedding light to the fair face of an elven woman in the cell adjacent to Rowen’s. The woman got up and moved to the edge of her cell, peering intently at Rowen. “Rowen?” She spoke incredulously. Rowen jumped in surprise.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Austel. You have never seen me, but I know much about you. I sent -” Austel stopped suddenly, and her face turned white. “He never reached you then… but what has befallen him?” She said, mostly to herself.
“Whom are you talking about?” Rowen asked.
Austel looked up, her gaze penetrated Rowen’s as if she was trying to decipher what was going through Rowen’s mind. She made up her mind, and spoke. “Jack.”
The impact of that one word was amazing. The memory coursed through Rowen’s brainwashed mind with a jolt. Austel reached through the bars and took the torch from Rowen’s hand before she could drop it. A sudden though occurred to Austel that it was odd that the brand was damp and wet. How could Rowen have lit it at all, not to mention without tinder? But other things were more pressing at the moment. Austel did not know how long they would be in the same chamber, and there were things Rowen needed to know. Austel suddenly began to speak hurriedly knowing that she would not be here long.
“Rowen, there are things you need to know! Castamir… he’s done something to you! Don’t listen to him! He has a black heart. Jack, Jack’s not all he seems either. Jack’s a well-known liar and thief, and he is a murderer. But its not his fault you see, he’s, well, he’s got a good heart but, well there’s not enough time to explain. I sent Jack after you, but he never made it. I don’t know what evil could have befallen him. He did not know Sabor was with the Seerganash, and I don’t think Sabor was one of them the whole time, rather he joined them later. He thought when Sabor said you could be useful that he meant you could offer your services as whatever you could do with dragons to stop them from siding with the Seerganash. Now the Seerganash, they are as crafty watermen as they are with fire. They pushed the dragons with waterworks and stone channeling of waters so that all of the dragons were pushed into the valley in the center of the Iron Hills. And they are kept here by the water as well. Of course, this doesn’t affect serpent dragons, but that means all of the dragons in the small space are fire dragons. Most could fly out over the water, but once together dominance has kicked in and none of the dragons will leave. Rowen, they will force you to negotiate with the head bull to win them to the Seerganash’s side, then set them loose upon Middle Earth. But they know it will kill you Rowen! If you go in there, you will die! You have to try to escape. Rowen! Listen to me: you must get out. Somehow.”
The door of the chamber burst open with a bang. Three elves walked in and pulled Austel out of her cell. Austel gasped and kicked as she was dragged out.
“ROWEN! You need to get out! Jack…he, Castamir… Castamir and Jack! They -“
The door shut with a bang, cutting off Austel’s words. Rowen was cast into complete blackness again as the torch, now on the floor, sputtered and went out. She was still trying to digest the information from Austel, but it just wouldn’t process. Her thought was interrupted by another click as the door opened once more, this time to retrieve Rowen. The elf that pulled her out had an even crueler face than the others, and he was very strong. “Come on you, move a little faster!”
Rowen glared up at him as he dragged her out of the chamber. “Where did you take Austel?”
“Oh her, the little sneak. We caught her sneaking around in the Mist, got all the information we needed out of her, and now she’s off to provide a snack for some infant dragons.” The elf chuckled cruelly. “My name would be Rantar, but I recon that you’ll remember my name very well by the time you get out of here.” The elf said with an evil grin and motioned for his company to follow.
Three days later, one of the guard that had been sent to check up on Rowen burst into Castamir’s hall furiously, the doors slamming behind him.
“Castamir! I refuse to be the one who has to check up on her anymore. I dislike going down there; that is not even part of my station! And that girl is a beast!”
“Come now, you can’t handle such a small task? Grintash, I am disappointed,” Castamir answered. Grinten held up his bloodied hand.
“She bit me!”
It was all Castamir could do to keep from laughing. A small grin was spreading across his face before he could stop it, but suddenly he frowned.
“What do you mean, out of your station? Her chamber is still in your area!”
“What are you talking about? She’s eight levels down.” Grinten said in reply. Castamir furrowed his brow.
“She’s not supposed to be down there. Who has her?”
“Captain Rantar. He brings her out to the landing space every time I come to check.”
This time Castamir growled angrily. He got up and strode out of the room. Larenteth greeted him at the door.
“What is wrong Castamir?”
“Larenteth, I need your horse.” Castamir answered. Larenteth’s horse was smaller and more adjusted to the smaller tunnels. Castamir jumped on and sped down the winding passageways.
Chapter 1: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9127.html
Chapter 2: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9141.html
Chapter 3: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9184.html
Chapter 4: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9263.html
Chapter 5: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9297.html
Chapter 6: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9307.html
Chapter 7: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9356.html
Chapter 8: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9422.html
Chapter 9: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9472.html
Chapter 10: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9530.html
Chapter 11: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9566.html
Chapter 12: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9603.html
Chapter 13: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9616.html
Chapter 14: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9629.html
Chapter 15: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9658.html
Chapter 16: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9678.html
Chapter 17: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9772.html
Chapter 18: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9847.html