Castamir rode quickly down the tunnels on Larenteth’s horse. He cursed the slowness of the horse and kicked his heels into its sides. The poor horse, sweat forming on its neck, whinnied and tried to go as fast as it could, but a bandaged foreleg seemed to be bothering it.
They sped down the tunnels as fast as the mare could go, until finally Castamir reached the tunnel branching off to the eighth level. The turn in the corridor opened up to reveal a sharp edge, leading down to the red stone room below. Castamir yanked the horse to a complete stop, the sound of hooves skidding on stone reverberating around the passageway.
“RANTAR!” Castamir yelled. Below some figures jumped as if startled, and half of them looked scared at the sound of Castamir’s voice. With another yank to the reigns, Castamir flew around the next corner and down the ramp to the base below. The elves there were of one of the lower ranks of Seerganash, and most simply fled as Castamir barged down. One elf, a porter perhaps, stood in front of a door still, but he was frozen in place. He attempted to speak, possibly to say no one was allowed in, but one look from Castamir and he went running as well.
Castamir jumped off Larenteth’s horse and pushed open the door. Inside it was a great chamber with a large basin of fire on one side and a small underground pool on the other. A company of elves was in here…. as well as Rowen. She was tied to the opposite wall, unmoving. Her head was flopped unconsciously down, her chin to her chest, and she hung loosely on the wall by ropes that gnawed at her wrists. There was special attention to the tying on her hands, as if to make sure her hands themselves could not move at all. The elves inside this chamber were not as low of rank as those outside, and did not move aside as easily. But Castamir pushed through them easily still and ran to Rowen. He took out a knife and cut her bonds, releasing her to the ground. Red lash-marks sliced across her bare back, and bruises covered her dark skin. Castamir stared in horror, then exclaimed, “She is going to help us with the dragons, she is not the dragon!”
Another elf stepped forward, somewhat boldly but timidly at the same time. “We were just trying to break her spirit so she’s be easier to handle.”
“She’s not one of our horses either!” Castamir shot back. Rowen groaned. “RANTAR!” Castamir yelled suddenly again. Suddenly Larenteth came in the chamber; evidently he had found another horse and went after Castamir to find out what was going on. Castamir picked up Rowen and handed her to Larenteth, and strode to the middle of the chamber. “RANTAR!” He called once more. This time the dark elf walked in, a little surprised to see Castamir but masking it well. A fresh scar ran down his face from the edge of his eyebrow all the way down his face – a token earned when Rowen got hold of a knife.
“What do you want?” He called back, keeping his distance.
“What were you doing with her?”
“What’s it look like? Breaking her in.”
“Rantar, she is not at horse or a dragon.” Castamir replied in the tone of one talking to an ignorant child.
“Eh, close enough. She’s vicious enough for it.” Rantar and the rest of the elves displayed their arms and hands, some even their faces. The skin was covered in burns, some shaped like handprints. “That’s why her hands were tied, but it also appeared she needed a muzzle… though I guess you already now about that one.” Rantar finished, a bored look on his face.
“Rantar, you did not consult me on this!”
“Well, whachu gonna do about that now? Already did it. Oh, wait, I’m sorry, I didn’t ask permission of the oh-so-holy Castamir!! Oh, forbid that! Almighty Castamir, let us all bow down! HAH!” Rantar spat at his feet.
Castamir stepped forward threateningly. The rest of the elves backed away at this point, none dared step up to Castamir. “Is that a challenge, Rantar?”
“Watch your temper – cool it Castamir. Oh I couldn’t challenge you!” Rantar said mockingly, but began to walk away all the same. Castamir glared at him, then loosened the grip on his sword and began to walk away. Larenteth put Rowen on his shoulder and began to walk to the door. Rowen groaned again and opened her eyes. She watched with blurry eyes as Rantar walked behind the fire-basin, but stopped walking, eyes fixed on Castamir. Rowen suddenly knew what was happening.
“CASTAMIR!” She called out, but he didn’t need the warning. Rantar had suddenly flipped up the fire basin, sending shooting flames and sparks everywhere. Castamir rolled just in time to avoid being crushed by the flaming bowl of stone as it smashed to the ground in a fury of flying embers. Larenteth looked back as the flames encircled Castamir and Rantar in a ring, and continued his pace out the door.
`What are you doing? Aren’t you going to help him?!” Rowen yelled as Larenteth went out the door.
“Believe me Rowen, nobody messes with Castamir, and I would not for any amount of dragon gold go near him when he’s fighting.” Larenteth answered.
Rowen could only see the shadows of Castamir and Rantar as the fire blazed higher. The only short actions she caught between the flickers were of Castamir dealing out but a few blows, and the rest of the elves fleeing out of the chamber. All noise suddenly stopped, and Castamir walked out, straight through the flames, wiping his sword on his cloak. He grabbed the collar of one of the fleeing elves and pulled him back. “You, go to the guard of area 114 and tell him there is food to be shipped out to the dragon valley here.” The elf nodded and quickly scampered off as if being backed by a whip.
Rowen simply gaped at what had just transpired. There was no question here: Castamir was the powerful head leader of the Seerganash. He sheathed his sword and looked up suddenly as if he was reminded of something. Immediately took three long strides and took Rowen from Larenteth. He held her at arms length looked at her, then shook his head in disgust. Dried blood dripped from a shallow knife slit on her rib cage, and she flinched as her bruises were bumped. One of her wrists was protected from the ropes by her gold band, but where the other was missing the flesh was gnawed and torn. Her head swam, and she was hungry and tired. Castamir caught her as she swayed and picked her up.
“Larenteth, I can go faster on foot to the healers. Take the horses back up, then meet me in the east wing. I’ll be up when the fires cross half peak, or at least by quarter blaze. Don’t tell any of the trenteth rank where we are going, I don’t trust them. I wouldn’t trust anyone once led by Rantar. Oh, and give message to Srinach we need a new captain of the trenteh ranks.” With that Larenteth sped off up the tunnels.
Castamir carried Rowen through the winding tunnels of the Seerganash hall, and up to the healers. Healers sounded like a pleasant name for people who mend injury, but these were closer to orc-healing than good care. There methods wre harsh and straightforward; nothing to kill pain. However, Castamir made sure they paid special attention to Rowen, and they mended her cuts and hurts well, though the process was agonizing. The liquid they poured into her cuts burned like mad as the slice frothed and healed over. But the salve they put on her back afterwards for the whiplashes did indeed quickly cease the pain.
After the healers were through, they gave Rowen a hot drink that lulled her to sleep. She had been sleep-deprived for the last three days, fearing what would happen if she let herself go unconscious in the presence of Rantar. Her bruises were not all from unfair fight; Rantar pitted his men in wrestling fights with her as “practice” for them. Rowen was strong, and she won a few fights before they finally go an idea of her strength. Without food or water, she got weaker and they ended up beating her pretty easily. She had once tried to escape out of the room when she saw another elf going down the hall, but her escape was unsuccessful and earned her the knife-slash in her ribs. Another incision ran down her lower outer thigh as well. Because she should not have been used to the treatment poured over these wounds to heal them, they healers worried she would become sickly so they put her body to sleep for a bit. They did this without her consent; Rowen did not get a chance to say the stuff they used was very much like the healing material she had lived with all her life. She was not even sure if they would have understood her, if they even spoke the common tongue at all still. In truth, their knowledge was so intense that all of the elves knew almost every language available to learn on Middle Earth. Not only were the language skills advanced, but so was their knowledge of elixirs. All the drinks in their long stash of elixirs were hot from the heated rocks that surrounded them, except for one icy one. No one ever drank that, and not even the healers knew what its purpose was or how it stayed icy, but it stayed forever a frosted glass amount the other hot ones.
Castamir, pressed by many issues because of his position among the Seerganash, and not wanting to put Rowen in the hands of anyone else, took her to the east wing, his wing, and put her in the hands of Larenteth. They put her in what could be called a cell, but was more like an entire chamber. In was big, lined with torches, but barred to forbid escape. Castamir laid her on a rock in the corner and left Larenteth to guard her. Before he left, Castamir turned to Larenteth. “Don’t mind any noises you hear that are not from Rowen. This end of the wing always has scratching noises in the rock at times.”
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
Chapter 19: https://www.theonering.com/docs/9949.html