9. Chapter Eight: Nargothrond
She dreamed of Faramir.
She dreamed that he was near and that he was seeking her through the mist. It was good to see him, even if he existed to her within the boundaries of the dreamscape. She gazed at him with love and pride, noting that he was dressed for battle, sword hung proudly at his hip, braces on his arms and the shield of Rohan slung across his shoulder. In truth it was not the Shield of Rohan as such but one that had been fashioned by Gondorian smiths when the original had been buried with his brother. Watching him as he drew nearer to her reminded Eowyn why she loved him so. They had been two displaced people, rudderless before they found one another.
She had been recovering from her infatuation for Aragorn who, by his kindness had unknowingly acquired her affection. She was also mourning the death of her father and trying to be more than a princess because the times required a warrior. Faramir had been the opposite but also the same. He was mourning the death of a brother, one he had always relied upon to make the hard choices in life only to learn with Boromir’s death, his world had changed forever. Suddenly he was the heir to the stewardship of Gondor, the keeper of destiny for the White City. If Fate had not produced Isildur’s heir in the shape of Aragorn, then she could well have been the Lady of Gondor instead of Ithilien.
As the chasm between them dwindled, Eowyn began walking towards her husband, wanting to feel his strong arms about her and tell her that he was with her and what came after this, they would face it together.
When he said those words to her, Eowyn believed they could defeat anything…
"Eowyn!" A sharp prodding in her side made the mist around them dissolve, taking Faramir with it.
Eowyn returned to a reality where there were no ethereal mists swirling around her or the presence of her husband. Instead she was met by rather cold, wet and slimy rock scraping against her cheek, the stench of a stable that had not known cleaning since the First Age and the understanding that she was going to die. She sat up abruptly as her most recent memories flooded into her mind and she saw that she was in a small room that appeared to a dungeon of some description. The room was in a serious state of disrepair. Its walls were marred with mighty cracks and the ceiling was half missing. Beyond it, there was no sky, merely darkness devoid of starlight.
Her head throbbed and her effort to reach for it brought forth the discovery that her hands were bound behind her back. Eowyn attempted to stave off panic at this discovery, especially when she looked around and saw that the room, save herself and Melia was empty. Arwen was not with them.
"Where is she?" Eowyn asked once she managed to sit up to face the Ranger.
"They took her," Melia announced shortly.
"They?" Eowyn stared at her, unable to remember anything about their attackers. With chagrin, Eowyn frowned at the fact that her inability to recollect their captors had to do with her being subdued so easily.
"I think they were shape shifters," Melia answered. "The one who captured me appeared to Arwen with my face."
"I have heard of were creature that are able to change shape," Eowyn muttered as she shook away the disorientation from being rendered unconscious. "But I thought they were legend."
"They’re real enough," Melia retorted bitterly. "They took Arwen to the Enemy. They knew which one of us she was."
"They were waiting for us," Eowyn hissed under her breath.
"More or less," the Ranger nodded grimly.
"So where is this place?" Eowyn took the opportunity to study her surroundings more carefully.
Through the crack in the ceiling, Eowyn saw the outline of a city. Its spires and columns were broken and it was clear that some terrible catastrophe had befallen it to be in such a state of dilapidation. Some of the buildings had crumbled away completely; exposing suites and rooms that were covered within with mosaics and withering tapestries. Moss and lichens grew over the gray stone with vines and cobwebs overhanging balconies and other high places. It did not require Eowyn to see much more to understand that they were presently being held in one of the ancient cities of the Sunken Lands.
"They call it Nargothrond," Melia responded attempting to loosen the bonds around her wrists but to little avail. As it was the outcome of her efforts made her skin feel raw and tender, forcing her to stop before she was further injured.
"The weremen?" Eowyn asked, straining to see through the small hole in the door to their cell. Beyond it she could hear the movement of their captors but there was no quiet to them. Her heart clenched inside her chest as she recognised the meat of their conversation because while the substance of their language eluded her, she knew the tongue being spoken.
As if aware of her realisation, Melia answered coolly, "we’ve been given to them."
"Given?" Eowyn’s eyes widened as she stared sharply at the Ranger. She knew what that meant of course but a part of her was still refusing to believe it.
"Apparently the Uruk Hai here have been without their females for quite some time," Melia swallowed, her face showing her clear revulsion of their intended fates. "The Enemy has given us to them to sate those desires."
"I would die first!" Eowyn spat in horror. She could not even begin to imagine such a gross violation of her body and for the first time since this all began, she started to feel currents of real terror surging through at being forced to endure such a thing.
"You will die anyway," Melia pointed out wearily. There was a brief pause and she spoke again, this time her voice was lowered almost to a whisper, "I have a plan to free us but you must trust me."
"What is it?" Eowyn asked just as softly.
"You do not want to know," the Ranger replied appearing somewhat uncomfortable with the question.
"Do not tell me that I do not wish to know," Eowyn hissed with exasperation. "This is not the time for riddles."
"And I give you none except to say that you must trust me," she repeated herself, still hesitant to tell Eowyn for the Lady of Ithilien might balk outright at the suggestion or worse yet, attempt to stop her from attempting it. "What I must do repulses me enough, however, the alternative is far worse. I have no intention of taking a Uruk Hai lover; I don’t care how insistent he is on the matter. If I fail, then we will at least die with swords in our hands and not the spoil of Uruk Hai filth."
Eowyn opened her mouth to protest but caught herself in time. Melia had proven to be a trusted ally during this entire quest and Eowyn supposed that trusting her in this matter was the least she could do to show her faith in the Ranger. Besides, she could not disagree with Melia’s logic. She would rather die fighting than raped and despoiled by Saruman’s savage creations.
"I trust you Melia," Eowyn said after a brief pause. "Can I help in what you plan to do?"
"Unfortunately not," Melia said with a little smile, grateful for the trust for it was no small thing to earn Eowyn’s respect. "I’m afraid this is work not worthy of the daughter of Rohan or more specifically, the Lady of Ithilien."
Eowyn did not understand but then she did not need to. "Alright then, do what you must."
"Thank you," Melia replied before returning her thoughts to the matter at hand. "Wish me luck."
Eowyn nodded as Melia turned her attention to the door and called out, attracting the attention of the guards at the door. One of them peered their brutish face through the opening in the door and seeing that she had caught their interest, asked to see their captain. She spoke in the common tongue but it was obvious that they understood her. Eowyn could not understand why Melia had asked the captain of the Uruk Hai be summoned. It was not as if they had anything to bargain with. The Enemy had Arwen and other than their value as relief for their lust, she did not know what reason Melia could have to call the attention of the Uruk Hai captain.
He entered the room a moment later, a sight to scare Eowyn who had faced far worse in her lifetime. Tall and muscular, his neck was thick and his face just as fearsome and ferocious as she remembered during the battle of Pelennor. The two women felt like dwarves next to him. There was no way they could hope to overpower him on equal ground and yet if they did not, they would face a nightmare far worse than any death imaginable.
"What is it you want?" He growled, his sharp teeth showing as he made the demand. His voice was like a snarl and the rest of him was savagery given form.
"I do not wish to die," Melia said simply, her tone was smooth, with a quality to it that was different from her usual speech, almost husky. Inwardly, however, the Ranger was fighting her fear because she was damn near terrified of the beast before her.
"You won’t die," he laughed wickedly, his eyes glimmering in twisted suggestion. "You two are the only females there are for my men, we will keep you alive for many, many years, or at least until we acquire more."
Eowyn felt herself blanch at the thought and prayed silently to all the gods of her ancestors that this plan of Melia’s worked because being kept alive for the sole purpose becoming the Uruk Hai’s sexual relief was enough to make her blood run cold and long for death. The idea of being violated by this creature was threatening to force sane thought from her mind.
"I would come to you willingly if you do not harm us more than necessary." Melia offered seductively, forcing herself to remain true to her course, no matter how much his closeness unnerved her.
Eowyn turned sharply to her, wondering what kind of game Melia was playing because she was never going to these creatures willingly, not while there was breath in her body. She almost demanded of Melia what insanity was she embarking upon when Eowyn remembered her promise to trust the Ranger.
"Willingly?" The Uruk Hai captain stared at her with uncertainty. "What difference does that make to us? We will take what we want anyway."
"You can do that," Melia agreed, aware of the dangerous tact she was taking but somehow she had to inspire this captain’s interest. "Or you can let me show you a world of pleasure beyond your understanding. Why do you think human males are so devoted to their wives? Love? Love is for fools. I am talking about lust, pure, dark and primeval, the kind that makes the body scream for more. I can show you so much pleasure that your mind will know nothing but the need to crave and when that craving is beyond endurance, I will satisfy it with all the skill at my disposal."
"This is a trick," the captain snorted in disbelief, yet there was a glimmer in his eyes that resembled interest. "You are attempting to escape."
"I can show you," Melia suggested, her eyes still fixed upon his own beneath their heavy ridges. "Keep my hands tied and give us some privacy and I will show you just how much of this is a trick."
By Valar, Eowyn cried out silently in the confines of her thoughts. She was succeeding! This Uruk Hai actually believed her!
The captain of the Uruk Hai stared at Melia for a second, trying to decide whether or not her offer was genuine. For a few seconds, nothing was said by anyone in the room although both Melia and Eowyn were holding their breaths in anticipation of his answer. After what seemed like an eternity of time, he reached down and pulled Melia to her feet by the collar of her shirt. The Ranger stood up shakily, uncertain whether or not she was happy that he had fallen for her ruse. Without speaking, he dragged her out of the cell into the larger room outside. There were three Uruk Hai there already. Two were playing sentry outside their cell and one who was standing guarding at the door to this room. All turned their attention to Melia and the captain as he dragged her to the center of the floor and lifted her roughly onto the table.
"Show me." He demanded.
"Tell them to go away," Melia replied glancing at the other Uruk Hai in the room. "This is not to be done for an audience, just you."
She gave him the same smile that she had in the cell, the one that promised all sorts of pleasure if he submitted to her small request. "I do not need to be untied," she added, just to give him reassurance that she was powerless against him. "Just a little privacy."
He considered her words for a short time before barking at the others in the room in words she did not understand but was clear enough when they started towards the door, sniggering to themselves with all kinds of derisive innuendo. Melia braced herself for what she needed to do and hoped it would succeed because in her experience, men did not take rejection well and one who had been lead as this one had, would not hesitate to kill her for the insult.
The first thing he did once they were alone was tear open the buttons of her shirt, exposing her breasts to him. She could tell he liked what he saw by the quickening of his breath. Melia was sitting on the table; her legs spread slightly apart as the captain took position between them. His hand reached for her skin and kneaded the flesh hard. Melia almost gagged from the sensation but closed her eyes and swallowed away her disgust. She smiled at him, pretending that his touch produced pleasure and that smile impacted upon him oddly; he did not know what to think. It was clear this Uruk Hai had never been with a female of any kind and was trying to satisfy his curiosity with her.
Unfortunately, this was as far as she was going to allow him.
Without any warning, Melia tilted her body slightly and threw her legs to either side of the captain’s neck. She grabbed hold of his head with her feet. In one swift but brutal show of strength, she twisted sharply once her hold was secure and, before he had any opportunity to push her away, snapped his neck with a terrible crunch of bone. He fell to the ground without uttering a word and Melia exhaled sharply, able to release this knot that had constricted her breathing passages as soon as she made her move to escape. Climbing off the table before the Uruk Hai at the door noticed what she had done; Melia saw their weapons on a table at the far end of the room. It appeared the Uruk Hai was going to divide them as spoils.
Melia found her sword and immediately cut the bonds around her wrists. It took some maneuvering to accomplish that but once it was done, she gathered their weapons and padded softly back to Eowyn’s cell.
"I’m back," Melia announced as she entered the cell.
"Where is he?" Eowyn asked, not wanting to know what Melia did to acquire her freedom, not if her exposed chest was any indication.
"Enjoying the fruits of human pleasure," Melia said wryly as Eowyn stood up and faced her bound wrist towards the Ranger so that she could be freed of them.
"I will not ask," Eowyn declared as she took her sword from Melia once she was freed and Melia was fixing the buttons on her clothes.
"Don’t," Melia showed her disgust without shame. "When this is done, I shall have to bathe for a month."
"We can go up that way," Eowyn pointed to the hole in the ceiling. Obviously the Uruk Hai never thought they would be able to use that as an escape route if their hands were tied.
"Good," Melia replied glancing past their cell door. "I don’t relish facing those Uruk Hai when they find out what I did to their captain."
Escaping from the hands of the Uruk Hai was not as difficult as it appeared; however, finding Arwen was another thing entirely.
The city of Nargothrond was largely intact despite its state and existed in a cavern. Judging by some of the cracks weeping with water, behind the rock was the ocean. It would only a matter of time before the sea claimed this city like the rest of the Sunken Lands. How this place had survived was a freak of nature but they supposed the Enemy had never intended on remaining here for long, only until its foul plan reached culmination in the birth of Arwen’s child or when it prepared to take the rest of Middle Earth. Unfortunately, their efforts to find the Queen of Gondor were hampered by the fact that their escape raised the alarm throughout the city, forcing them out of it until they could regroup and consider what was to be done.
The underworld beneath the Blue Mountains seemed to be a series of caves and both Melia and Eowyn came to the decision to find someplace to hide until the Uruk Hai stopped searching for them. Once that happened, they could continue their search for Arwen with a little less hindrance, though neither were deluding themselves with the notion that it would be simple. Eowyn had no idea whether it was nearing the full moon or what the Enemy’s plans were now that he had Arwen in his power. Eowyn knew she was still alive but the closer they approached the ritual that would see her child’s soul replaced with that of Melkor’s, the greater the possibility became that she might take her own life to save Middle Earth.
Slipping into the passages that lead away from the city, Melia wanted to return to the place where they had been taken, in the hopes that it might provide them with some clue as to where Arwen had led. They assumed the city but if they were wrong, the consequences would be fatal. In truth, the exercise was more an effort to feel less helpless than they already did. They made their way down the meandering cavern of rocks and twisting pathways when suddenly, they heard noises coming from the further down the passageway. Voices in soft tones were echoing down the narrow confines of rock. Melia and Eowyn took cover immediately, not prepared to be discovered, at least not until they went after Arwen.
"Something draws near," Legolas announced to the Fellowship as they made their way down a passage of rock they had discovered to be full of tracks. Whether or not they belonged to Arwen or Eowyn was difficult to say for there were many of them but at least they were fresh.
"What?" Aragorn asked, unsheathing his sword and looking ahead with deadly intent. Since descending into this stygian world, his fears for Arwen had increased a thousand fold and he was eager to find something so that he could flay its skin from its body to learn the whereabouts of his wife.
"I am not certain," the elf’s brow knotted in confusion as he replied in a puzzled voice, "I do not sense it as danger though."
"Isn’t that a good thing?" Pippin quipped.
"Could it be Arwen?" Aragorn asked hopefully.
"I do not sense her," Legolas replied and was rewarded with a disheartened expression from the king.
"How close is it?" Faramir’s weapon was drawn and ready for attack.
"Very close," Legolas answered.
"All of you," Aragorn spoke firmly to the rest of the Fellowship, "stay here. Legolas and I will go investigate."
"But…" Faramir started to protest when Aragorn cut him short.
"I need you here to protect our backs," Aragorn quickly explained. "Legolas does not sense danger but that does not mean it is not a trap."
"Alright," the Lord of Ithilien was forced to concede that much to his king and fell back as Aragorn and Legolas continued down the passage.
"Take care Strider," Gandalf warned good-naturedly as they drew away. "You do not know if what you find is a threat.’
"Care to tell me what I will find?" He stared at the wizard with impatience.
Gandalf said nothing, merely giving him a bemused smile.
Sometimes, Aragorn wished that Gandalf was not quite so evasive. Death had done nothing for the man except make him infuriatingly cryptic.
With Legolas leading the way, Aragorn followed the Prince of Mirkwood further up the tunnel, wondering what perils they would find. He had kept the others behind because the space between the passageway was narrow enough without too many bodies trying to fight if there was an attack of some kind. They entered a slightly larger cavern filled with protruding limestone formations and saw nothing but more shadows. Legolas paused in the middle of the main track to the cave and swept his eyes across the terrain. Aragorn knew the stance well. He had detected something. The elf stepped away from the path, moving stealthily without making any sound against the gravel toward a particularly large stalactite. He was almost upon it when out of nowhere; a lithe figure stepped out and threw a fist squarely in his face.
"Legolas!" Aragorn shouted and moved to intercept as Legolas tumbled into the dirt, landing flat on his back. The stranger’s movement was lightning fast as she took up position over him and aimed her weapon directly at the fallen Prince.
Legolas froze as he found himself staring into the sharp end of a crossbow’s bolt. The woman who stood before him would not hesitate to fire, this he knew without any delusions, despite her loveliness. He lay there for a moment, stunned by the attack, particularly since he had sensed no danger. She did not see him as she aimed and he knew by the focus in her eyes, that her aim was deadly accurate. She stared at him dispassionately, bearing the stance of an experienced archer for she did not distinguish him as anything but her target. It was a skill he knew well and employed himself. Allowing one’s mind to become clouded with the who and the what of the target only distracted the archer’s mind when he needed to know only one thing; where it was to shoot.
"Aragorn?" Eowyn’s astonished voice suddenly filled the cavern.
Legolas took the opportunity to escape his compromising position when the sound of Eowyn’s voice distracted his attacker. Kicking his foot out, he swept her feet from under her and sent her tumbling towards him. She feel into the dirt next to him and Legolas quickly sat up and straddled her, tearing the crossbow out of her hand and flinging it aside. Before she could do anything else (like strike him again) Legolas clamped his hands around her wrists and pinned them to the ground. The whole weight of his body ensuring that she could not break free.
"Melia!" Eowyn hurried out of her hiding place before Aragorn. "It is alright! This is the King and Prince Legolas."
"Then tell the Prince to unhand me!" Melia hissed angrily, glaring at Legolas at having exchanged places so unceremoniously.
"If you are finished Legolas?" Aragorn stared at the elf momentarily before turning to Eowyn.
"It was not I that ambushed us!" Legolas pointed out as he climbed off the woman Eowyn had called Melia. As a gentlemen and a Prince of Mirkwood, he offered his hand towards her in order to help the lady to her feet.
"We were protecting ourselves," Melia grumbled as she ignored his gesture and stood up on her own, still glaring at him.
"ENOUGH!" Aragorn boomed because he could not care less about whose fault this was. He had only one thought in mind now that Eowyn was before him and able to answer his questions.
"Where is Arwen?" He asked slowly, each word dripping with barely restrained anger.
"The Enemy has taken her," Eowyn swallowed thickly and answered her king. She could not believe that Aragorn had come all this way to find them and yet what else would he have done when he learnt his wife was gone? The King that had gained the unswerving alliegance of so many had done so because he would do such a thing. He was not a man who would let others do for him what he himself was unprepared to do. When it came to Arwen, Eowyn should have guessed that Aragorn would consider it nothing less than his right to come to his wife’s aid, his kingship be damned.
"Where?" Aragorn said tautly in a tone that demanded immediate compliance.
"Into the city to what is left of Nargothrond," Eowyn replied automatically. She was grateful that he was here because now they could retrieve Arwen with the aid of one of the Gondor’s greatest warriors.
"That explains a great deal," Legolas replied. "Nargothrond was already underground when Numemor was sunk by the Valar. It is quite possible that it remained intact because of the huge caverns within which it was constructed. All this," he gestured to the caves they had been travelling, "are the caverns the Noldor elves created to link to the city, to their jewel."
"Eowyn!" Faramir cried from the mouth of the cavern. The commotion had brought the rest of the Fellowship and Faramir was greeted with the wondrous sight of his wife, alive and well, though looking rather worse for wear, standing before him. Eowyn’s face lit up with similar radiance upon seeing him and they ran into each other’s arms, before their lips met in a passionate kiss of nothing less than sheer joy. Faramir swept Eowyn into his arms, spinning her around as his heart swelled with untold relief. The emotion and fervor of the moment touched all those present, even Aragorn who had yet to be reunited with Arwen, elating their hearts at the vision of this happy reunion.
"I thought I would never see you again," Eowyn whispered as she clung to her beloved.
"I would follow you anywhere," he smiled. "Do you not know that?"
"I should have suspected," she laughed. "I knew you were too stubborn to stay at home and wait for me."
"I might say the same about you," he grinned.
Ignoring the happy couple because the dark business before them was far from over, Aragorn turned to the rest of the Fellowship. Arwen was still missing and until he found his wife, he could not rest. "Is not Nargothrond the elven city taken by Glaurung?" He remembered the history of the city from his studies as a member of Elrond’s house.
"Yes," Gandalf nodded grimly, "Glaurung took the city after defeating the armies of Nargothrond and Tumhalad in the First Age."
"Who was this Glaurung?" Frodo asked. He knew something of the legends of the First Age but he had to confess that he had never heard of this Glaurung.
"He was a dragon of Angband," Gandalf replied. "He emerged from the pit in the year 260 of the First Age and was considered the greatest of all the dragons of the Urloki or in the common tongue, fire breathers. Some even call him the father of all dragons. He fought for Melkor during the Battle of the Sudden Flame and then later at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears. In the year 496, Glaurung took the city of Nargothrond and created here a great hoard of treasure. It is said that he was a master of illusion and was able to trick the hero Turin into marrying his sister Nienor. However, his trickery could not keep Turin from driving a sword into his belly."
"Wait a minute…" Eowyn suddenly broke away from Faramir and faced Gandalf. "Is that why we needed to retrieve Turin’s sword because the enemy is Glaurung?"
"Glaurung was killed!" Legolas insisted. "Turin killed him!"
"No," Gandalf shook his head seeing no reason to conceal the truth now that Eowyn had guessed the identity of their Enemy. "He was not killed though he was wounded terribly and would have died if he had not released Turin from the spell that kept him blind to Nienor’s true identity. Grief stricken by the horror of learning his wife was his sister, Turin took his own life. Many had thought that it was Glaurung’s last act of vengeance to remove the spell but in truth it was his own salvation he was attempting to procure. Without Turin to hunt him, Glaurung was able to retreat to the dark places of the world, where he could recover his strength. His wound was grievous indeed and as it is in the case of dragons, he was able to sleep for a long time while his powers and his strength returned."
"And now he seeks to revive Melkor by stealing my son’s life," Aragorn said tautly, the rage in his heart was beyond description. "Why could you not tell us this before?"
"He is a master of illusion Aragorn," Gandalf explained. "He has a palantir and if he knew that we were coming for him, he could have placed us under the same spell that allowed Turin to marry his sister. As long as he thought he had remained safely anonymous, he ignored us for the most part. My guess is once your wife arrived in Mithlond, he began to understand that it was Turin’s sword that she wanted. Of course he could not risk harming her, not until she was close enough."
"The creatures that took her, the shape shifters, they were quick to separate us. They had no use for us and gave us to Uruk Hai."
"They gave you to the Uruk Hai?" Sam exclaimed horrified.
"Yes," Eowyn replied, still shuddering inwardly at the words that brute had spoken regarding his intentions for them. "If Melia had not tricked that savage into believing she wanted him, we would not have escaped at all."
"I do not think we need to go into the specifics of our escape," Melia muttered, somewhat embarrassed by the whole thing. Her skin was still crawling from where the Uruk Hai had touched her.
"I for one would like to hear all about it," Legolas gave her a look of pure evil.
"We don’t have time for this," Aragorn declared, too concerned with his wife’s fate to care for the banter of those around him. "I’m going to find my wife now."
"We don’t know where she is in the city," Eowyn replied.
"I will find her," Gandalf stated and took the lead. "We are close enough now, I should be able to detect him. We do not have much time. The Enemy knows that you are here, he will attempt to carry out the ritual before we can stop him."
"Then let us be off," Gimli responded eagerly. "The time has come for us to finish this once and for all."
With that, Aragorn could not disagree.
Arwen was in hell.
She had not died yet, to go to this terrible afterlife spoken of so often by mortals, but she knew she was already there. The nightmare in which she now found herself was almost akin to that hellish fate and there was no way she could keep it from consuming those that she loved as well. Kicking and screaming had they taken her away from Eowyn and Melia, whose fate preyed heavily upon her mind particularly when she knew what the Enemy had planned for them. The thought of what they were enduring because of her caused her soul to wail with anguish because this was the very outcome she had feared the most when she had allowed Eowyn to embark upon this journey with her, that Eowyn’s life would be forfeit because of her. Not only was Eowyn’s life endangered, she had brought another into this and now Melia too would die because of her.
And as much as it shamed Arwen, that was not even the worst of it.
The worst of it was that at this moment, the shape shifters surrounded by comrades composed of Uruk Hai and Orcs were awaiting their master’s arrival to begin the ceremony that would rip the soul out of her unborn son’s body with Arwen helpless to do anything to stop it. She had prayed that if all hope was lost, if her efforts to stop the Enemy had failed utterly, there would still be the chance of saving Middle Earth from Melkor’s darkness by taking her own life. However, it seemed that the Enemy had already surmised that she might make this attempt and so as soon as she was under their power, the shape shifters ensured that she was given no opportunity to cheat their master of his prize.
Trapped on a slab of rock in what was once the main courtyard in the city of Nargothrond, Arwen’s hands and feet were bound as the shape shifters prepared her for the ritual. Above her, she could see nothing of the moon but it did not matter. The magic that would destroy her son did not require the moon’s power to become, it simply needed her. They had torn open her dress, leaving her belly exposed for all to see. Strange writings were scrawled upon her fair skin in blood, the language was that of Utumno, the lands that were once the center of Melkor’s earthly empire. She squirmed desperately as they placed the fouls words upon her skin and marked her forehead with strange concoctions that reeked of evil but paid little attention to her. She was but the vassal of their future master and while she was not to be hurt, she was not the most important player in this ceremony. Her babe was.
"Please!" She begged them, knowing it was pointless because they were savants to their master’s will. "Don’t do this! He is an innocent! Don’t take his life before he even begins it!"
"Do not weep little mother," a voice suddenly consoled from above her. It was like the rumble of thunder, low but still loud enough to ensure that when he spoke, he commanded the attention of all those present. Arwen saw the shape shifters treating her retreat a little in deference to their master’s presence. Even the Orcs and the Uruk Hai had bowed their head in reverence to the speaker.
Arwen raised her head and looked into the face of her enemy. The sight of him made her scream in nothing less than terror when she saw a dragon standing over her. This was nothing like the drake that she, Eowyn and Melia had fought within the Forest of Brethil. This was a Urloki, a full blooded, great dragon of the First Age. A fire breather that had been created by Melkor himself when he existed in the physical plane. A dragon with golden scales gleaming under the light of many torches scattered around the courtyard to give Nargothrond the radiance it lacked without the sun above it. The dragon’s massive head revealed its diamond like eyes and it regarded her thoughtfully before speaking again.
"Do not weep for him little mother," it repeated itself in that same bone shuddering voice. "He will be the master of all. I will make him a god and together we will rule Middle Earth as it was meant to be."
"He will not be my son!" Arwen shouted. "He will be Melkor! I have seen the vision of what his reign will wreak upon Middle Earth and it is a rule bathed in blood! I won’t let you take his soul!"
"There is very little you can do to prevent it," Glaurung replied calmly, having expected such desperate posturing at the moment of truth. "What will be will be. Once Melkor is inside of you, you will remain here until he is born. When you die, I shall return your son to Gondor, where he will take his place by his father’s side."
"NEVER!" Arwen screamed defiantly again. "His father is no fool! He will know the truth."
"He will know what I wish him to know," Glaurung returned smugly, his dragon’s teeth bared malevolently as he did so. "I will make him accept the child just as I made Turin marry his sister, Nienor."
Arwen stared at him, realizing at last with whom she was dealing with.
"Glaurung!" She gasped. "You are Glaurung!"
"I am glad you know me Evenstar," Glaurung nodded, smoke escaping his nostrils in short puffs as he did so. "Since we will be spending what remains of your life in close company."
"This will not succeed!" Arwen hissed. "You cannot watch me every second for the next nine months. If you destroy my son before he is born I will ensure that your Melkor will never know life in his skin! I will kill myself before I let you blight Middle Earth with his evil again!"
"You talk bravely," the dragon laughed, "but you will not know a moment alone until that child is freed from your body and if I must I will tear you open myself to acquire him when it is safe. You will not harm my future king." With that, Glaurung turned to his minion and said simply, "begin."
"No!" Arwen screamed in despair as the shape shifters came to her once more and began chanting the words that would begin the dark ritual and the transmogrification of her son into Melkor. She tried desperately to break free but she was trapped, completely and utterly. Not even the Sword of Turin that lay on a stone bench not far from where she lay could help her. It might as well have been ten thousand leagues away for her ability to reach it.
"Please! Don’t harm my baby!" She sobbed as she struggled, trying to ignore the chanting taking place around her.
Suddenly a sharp stabbing pain filled her body with such intensity that all she could do was scream as it pierced through her skin and ignited all her nerve endings with fire. Her scream tore through the air, like a knife cutting the air. Her knees tried to pull up, to brace herself against the pain spreading out from her womb to the rest of her. The chanting grew louder but Arwen no longer noticed it. Above her, Glaurung’s eyes gleamed in triumph.
"He is coming!" Glaurung exclaimed. "Melkor is coming from the void!"
As he finished that sentence, Arwen felt another agonizing spasm of pain that forced the air from her lungs in another pitched scream. Her hands gripped the ropes that bound her wrist, pulling on them as the pain become more than she could stand. She knew what was happening, she could feel the terror of her babe inside of her and felt her heart shatter because she could do nothing to help either of them. Each scream of pain uttered engendered the rejoicing of the Uruk Hai and the Orcs in attendance of the ceremony.
Blood started seeping out of her nose as she screamed, that damned chanting in her ears as they invoked dark powers to force Melkor into her body. With the rising fervor of their words, her pain increased until all she could hear were her own screams, half mired in agony, half begging for the life of her child. Desperate pleas that earned no compassion from those watching because their purpose was being served already. Her child meant nothing to them.
She stopped screaming immediately, forgetting the pain as she turned her head and saw Aragorn at the far end of the courtyard. He was staring at her across the sea of Orcs and Uruk Hai, his face etched with the desperate need to know that she was alive. She could only imagine what her screams would have done to his state of mind upon hearing them. She had been ready to give up, she had been ready to succumb to the pain but that moment of weakness was over. She would fight with all her strength to save her baby because there was now hope because he was here!
Aragorn was here!
"Estel!" She cried desperately. "HELP US!"
The entire courtyard burst into chaos as the Uruk Hai and the Orcs rushed to meet the intruders. Arwen saw through her tears Aragorn drawing out the sword of Narsil and decapitating the first Orc that dared to enter his presence without thinking twice. With the blade that had once taken the ring from Sauron’s fingers and a smaller dagger in his other hand, she watched him fight his way through the forces of evil rallied against him. Arwen had never seen him in battle but she doubted that she would forget it. He was magnificent in his fury. He moved far swifter than any warrior, man or elf, using both hands to fight the enemies coming at him. He laid waste to Uruk Hai that came at him with their brutish weapons, stopping their blows with the sword before thrusting the dagger into their bodies to end the threat of them once and for all.
Another came at him from the right and Aragorn dropped low enough to avoid the swing that would have taken his head off before turning around and stabbing his dagger deep into the creature’s leg. The Uruk Hai howled in pain before Aragorn completed their battle by running him through with his sword. Throwing his fist back, he stopped in its tracks the Orc coming at him with a raised axed, causing the creature to stagger slightly before Aragorn swung around, his blade gleaming as it slice through the Orc’s throat and spurted black blood in all directions.
"Finish it!" Glaurung roared at his shape shifter servant, reminding Arwen that the ritual was not ended simply because Aragorn had arrived.
"No!" She wailed, refusing to allow this terrible thing to happen, not when they were so close to salvation.
The shape shifters resumed their chanting and Arwen felt that same terrible pain coursing through her, cutting short any protestations she might have about the ceremony. She threw her head back and uttered another blood curdling scream of exquisite agony as the invasive spirit entered her body. All of a sudden an arrow sliced through the air and ended the chanting just as her throat became hoarse and she was drained of the power to cry out again. Blood spurted from the shape shifter’s neck as it tumbled to the floor. Another arrow flew over her head and into the other shape shifters participating in the ritual. The accuracy and swiftness of the arrows could only belong to one person. She craned her neck and saw Legolas renewing his assault of arrows upon the shape shifters. Next to him was Melia and together they made a formidable combination as the performers of the ritual were killed off one by one.
Glaurung moved towards her, intending on snatching her away when suddenly he was flung backwards like a lizard being abused by a small and capricious child. The dragon howled in nothing less than fury as Arwen heard Gandalf shouting at Frodo and Sam to free her. Arwen realized that only Gandalf’s power could have dispatched the dragon so easily. Glaurung’s enormous crushed the wall upon which it had landed. Debris of stone fragments came loose as it shook away its disorientation and glared at the battle transpiring before it with nothing less then thunderous rage. Arwen struggled again, wanting desperately to be away from the fire breather for she had a sense that his actions from this point would be fueled by rage and the restraint he had shown her earlier might no longer hold sway now that his plans were in jeopardy.
"Hold on Miss," Arwen heard Sam’s voice next to her ear and tilted her head to see the halfing cutting away at the ropes holding her arms. "We’ll get you out of here."
"Can you walk?" Frodo asked as he did the same to the ropes around her feet.
"Yes," Arwen nodded, swallowing hard as her hands suddenly knew freedom. She sat up quickly and saw that Glaurung was almost upon them. "Frodo! Sam! Watch out!"
The two hobbits looked up and found themselves facing the dragon that had them in their sights. Frodo turned away from Glaurung, ignoring his terror and forcing himself to slice through the ropes binding Arwen to the stone altar. As soon as she was free, Arwen rolled off the table, landing on her feet just as Glaurung let lose a jet of fire at them. With little consideration of the pain that ached her body, she grabbed both the hobbits and dragged them under the slab of stone just as the fire washed over them.
Eowyn gazed across the courtyard and saw Aragorn’s efforts to reach Arwen stymied by the swarm of Orcs and Uruk Hai around him. Beneath the altar where the ritual was to be performed, she saw Arwen and the hobbits taking refuge with the dragon fast approaching them. The shape shifters had turned their attention to Gandalf attempting to distract him since he was the only one strong enough to deal with their master. He was fighting off them easily but was distracted from Arwen’s plight momentarily.
"Faramir!" She shouted at her husband who was at her side, hacking away at the Uruk Hai that was bent on claiming his head for its own.
Faramir blocked the blade coming down upon him and held the Uruk Hai in a deathly grip as he kicked out his leg, landing the ball of his foot on his opponent’s stomach and causing him to buckle. Pulling back his sword, he swung hard, shattering the enemy’s blade and taking the creature’s head with it. The Uruk Hai had no time to scream as it fell before Faramir who turned to his wife at her call when an Orc stabbed a blade in his direction. The Lord of Ithilien lashed out with his sword, tearing the weapon away from the foul being’s hands and completed the battle when he ran it threw with the blade.
"We need to get to Arwen!" Eowyn cried out.
Faramir looked across the floor at where Arwen was trying to protect herself and the hobbits from Glaurung’s rage and saw Gandalf’s preoccupation. "No," he shook his head. "We need to get to Gandalf."
Eowyn understood his meaning and together they fought their way through to the wizard. Eowyn saw a creature moving through the body of Orcs, Uruk Hai and the Fellowship, coming straight for her. She noticed that it changed shape as it approach, first appearing like an Orc then an Uruk Hai, rotating as it neared her rapidly. Eowyn guessed immediately that it was the weremen that had overcome them back in the cavern when she and Melia had been separated from Arwen. She held up her sword, trying to keep her eye upon it because it was difficult to focus when suddenly Faramir who had been standing next to her lowered his sword.
"We should leave," he replied.
"Leave?" Eowyn stared at him in shock. "Are you insane?"
"No," she shook his head. "This is the King’s problem."
Eowyn narrowed her eyes and made her decision there and then. Without thinking twice she thrust her blade forward, sinking it into his flesh. Driving her sword straight into his body, she did not halt her grisly advance until the blade met air on the other side of his back. He looked at her betrayed, his mouth opened to speak but the sound that came out was not her beloved voice’s but an unearthly howl that tore through her ears. The creature bearing Faramir’s face dropped to his knees before his features changed to that of the reptile like shape shifter that Melia had described.
"Have to do better than that, I’m afraid." Eowyn whispered and smiled to herself when she saw Faramir making short work of the Orcs that were keeping Gandalf from dealing with Glaurung. Stepping over the body of the dead shape shifter, she continued toward her husband and the wizard, killing anything that lay in her path to do so.
"Arwen is pinned!" Legolas called out to Melia whose efforts as an archer were of the most use to help the Evenstar who was trapped under the altar with Sam and Frodo. Aragorn had sent him and Melia ahead because they had been the best able to dispatch the shape shifters who were carrying out the ritual for Glaurung, however, now that they were dispensed with, Legolas and Melia were faced with a larger problem; the dragon itself.
"Arwen!" Melia called out, hoping that she could hear the Ranger through all this noise. The Evenstar searched for the source of her name and fixed her gaze upon Melia an instant later.
"Be prepared to run!" Melia instructed and raised her crossbow so that Arwen would understand what she and Legolas intended.
Arwen nodded, issuing unheard warnings to the two halflings that had freed her. Melia turned to Legolas and exhaled a deep breath. "Are you as good with that thing as they say?"
"I have been known to be proficient," Legolas retorted pulling two arrows from his bow and taking aim at the dragon. "Are you?" He cast a sidelong glance at her with a brow raised.
"I did not shoot you, did I?" Melia replied sweetly and did the same with her crossbow.
"I will take that as a yes," he replied. "Aim for the belly. This isn’t a drake. Nothing will penetrate Glaurung’s hide, no matter how straight our arrows fly. Only his belly or the soft skin beneath his neck is truly vulnerable. I doubt we can fell him with arrows alone but the distraction will help Arwen and the others flee his presence."
"I follow your lead Prince," Melia answered with all seriousness in her voice.
Legolas fired first and impressed Melia with the perfection of his aim. Both arrows separated in mid flight, one striking the dragon’s flesh just above the belly where his heart was and the other in the beast’s neck. Glaurung roared with fury and turned his massive head in their direction as Melia took her shots. The bolts surged through the air, meeting their mark in the dragon’s belly. His pain echoed in his furious cry and his eyes blazed with red fire as he opened his mouth and he breathed out a terrible gust of heat.
"Oh hell!" Melia cried out as a blast of flame came rushing at them.
She felt Legolas’ arms around her waist, pulling her to the ground as the ball of fire came surging towards them. They both crashed heavily into the dirt as the fireball landed where they had been standing. There was little time to recover from the fall when another came in their direction. Once again, Legolas grabbed her and they were running for cover, barely avoiding the cascading waves of heat that not only set the ground on fire but also took any Orc or Uruk Hai in the vicinity with it.
"I think we upset it," Melia said breathing hard as they took refuge behind a column.
"Arrows do that," Legolas remarked wryly.
"Thank you," Melia swallowed thickly, seeing the flames burning in the place where they had been. "I do not think I would have moved fast enough to escape."
"Does that mean that you have finally decided to accept the aid of a Prince of Mirkwood?" He asked, smiling at her.
"I deserved that," she laughed. "If we survive this, I will make proper recompense. For now, did Arwen make it?"
Legolas stole a glance past the column and saw that Arwen was no longer cowering under the stone altar.
She, Frodo and Sam were hurrying away from Glaurung. The two hobbits were bravely fighting off the Orcs that were attempting to reach her. Legolas could not help but smile at how far they had come since setting off from Rivendell long ago. They were now warriors in their own right and were able to hold their own against the forces against them.
"Yes," he nodded. "But Glaurung’s attention does not linger too far from her," he replied seeing the dragon seeking out the Evenstar again. However, Glaurung’s next action struck cold fear into Legolas’ heart.
"ARAGORN!" He shouted.
Aragorn saw Arwen fleeing with Sam and Frodo and offered a silent thanks to Legolas and the Ranger Melia for providing her with a window of opportunity to escape. His own efforts to reach her had been hampered by the weight of all the Uruk Hai and the Orcs that were determined to slay a king on this day. It was a pleasure he was going to deny them as he fought valiantly the numbers rallied against him. Aware that he would become their target almost as soon as they had seen him, Aragorn had sense enough to distribute the forces at hand wisely. Legolas and Melia were more than capable of ending the ritual by dispatching those who would perform it. Gandalf was keeping Glaurung at bay while Sam and Frodo, two hobbits who knew more about stealthy advance then Aragorn could ever dream after walking into Mordor, had been sent after Arwen to free her. Meanwhile, the others took their swords and axes to the small army assembled before them.
Beside him, Gimli was swinging his mighty axe; each arch made by the thick blade was soon followed by a sharp and agonized scream indicating that the dwarf lord had made his mark. Gimli’s handling of the weapon was next to superb and he was able to defend himself against sword and fork. The orcs that he felled lay on the ground unmoving, their black blood running into the dirt around their ruined bodies. The dwarf’s size did little to hamper his ability to fight the formidable Uruk Hai because the foul savages thirst for death was almost rivaled by the dwarves love of battle. In passion and skill they were both evenly matched even if in body they were not.
Merry and Pippin were showing the Orcs what they had learnt from Boromir’s teachings and the battles they had fought during the War of the Ring. Like Gimli, their size was not an obstacle and some times an advantage for they were able to surprise their opponents by how fiercely they fought. Pippin was the more frenzied of the two but his seemingly wild slashes had purpose and the dead beneath his feet was a testament to that. As usual, Merry ensured that Pippin’s back was safe during the battle as he fought off the creatures that might try to sneak up on his friend. The two made a formidable team as they launched their two pronged attack.
A Uruk Hai had slammed his thick skull against Aragorn’s forehead and sent the king stumbling backwards. The savage enemy came at him with a mace, attempting to crush his skull with a single blow. Aragorn slipped beyond his reach when he prepared to bring down the weapon upon the king. Aragorn managed to get behind him and was there to meet the Uruk Hai snarling in outrage at his escape, with the point of his blade when he sent it through the creature’s neck. The enemy dropped his weapon and clutched the sword, trying to drag Aragorn forward. Wasting no time, Aragorn slid the dagger in his other hand through the monster’s flesh and tore open his insides, ending any further effort on his part.
Aragorn spun around to the sound of Legolas’ terrified scream and saw the dragon Glaurung coming straight for him. The beast opened his mouth and spewed forth a wall of fire that the king barely avoided when he jumped clear. Hot flames consumed the Uruk Hai standing near him and screams of agony filled the air as well as the unpalatable stench of roasting flesh. Aragorn had just landed when he saw a shadow over him and realized that it was Glaurung’s tail about to smash down on him. The king scrambled to his feet and ran forward, trying to escape the reach when another ball of flame stopped him in his steps. Back tracking, he did not have time to react to the tail that came at him.
Arwen watched in horror as Estel was swept off his feet and flung half way across the floor. He landed badly and did not get up again as Glaurung approached him. Even Legolas and Melia’s efforts to hinder his progress towards the king did not effect the dragon since he was now walking on all fours, protecting his soft belly from attack. His open mouth was smoking and he was drawing breath for another fiery assault.
"You will do no more harm!" Gandalf hurried forward, standing before the dragon with his staff raised.
"And what will you do wizard?" Glaurung asked malevolently. "Will you stop me before I incinerate this mortal? Do you think that you are fast enough to prevent my breath of fire from consuming the King and turning him into ashes? Try me Istari and see which of us is wrong."
Gandalf faltered because it was true. He could fight this creature but could he act before Glaurung exhaled the breath waiting inside his body? He was not sure and he could not take the chance. Middle earth was now at peace because the races had rallied around the King of the Re-Unified Kingdom. Without Aragorn, Middle Earth would fall to chaos once more and might never recover.
"This cannot end the way you want," Gandalf said coldly.
"It will end the way I choose," Glaurung hissed, black smoke rising out of his nostrils and his mouth. "Give me the woman and I will leave him be."
"No," Gandalf retorted. "Never."
"Then watch the Re-Unified Kingdom die with Isildur’s heir and out of the chaos I will still give them a new king, a king who is not only of Isildur but also of Gil Galad."
"NO!" Arwen screamed from where she was. "YOU WILL NOT HARM ANYONE!"
Arwen saw her beloved Estel lying on the ground, blood running from his forehead and knew that he could be dead, today. She had given up her immortality to be with him and though she accepted that those years would be only as long as a single mortal span of life, she was not prepared to lose him now. Not before any of the dreams that they had built in their years apart were given shape. This foul relic of the First Age was not going to destroy her and Estel the way it had destroyed Turin. She would not let it! No more was she going to stand by and let this creature take away all that she loved, beginning with her baby and now its father.
Arwen stepped forward, ignoring Eowyn’s cries to desist and placed herself before Aragorn and Glaurung. Her child, whether or not he knew it, would protect his parents even from the womb.
"This ends now Glaurung," Arwen glared at him with a stare that could have burned him dead if it was allowed. "You will cause no more mischief to any of my kin."
"Empty threats do not become you Evenstar," Glaurung declared shortly. "You will come with me or I will kill your precious King."
"You will kill no one." She said icily and closed her eyes before chanting words of her own, words as ancient as the world itself. "Not me, not my husband or my son!"
She was the Evenstar.
Her people had come from the sea and to the end of time, would return to it. She did not call upon the ancient gods very often because it was not the way of the elves to require the assistance of their deities to solve their troubles. However, this evil before her was one they knew well and she needed their aid as she had never needed it before. She closed her eyes and felt the sea that lay beyond the rock that surrounded the city of Nargothrond, she felt the ocean beyond it and allowed its water to nourish her. She called upon the Valar, specifically upon the Ocean Lord Ulmo. Once he had granted her the power to save Frodo Baggins when the Nazghul had pursued her.
She hoped he was listening to her now.
"What are you doing?" Glaurung demanded.
Arwen did not listen. She continued to invoke the ancient words of calling and only when the cavern began to shake, did they know what she was doing. The rock began to heave around her and the cracks miniscule when she had arrived began to widen, allowing more and more water to seep through.
"STOP THIS!" Glaurung bellowed.
"Kill her if you dare," Gandalf challenged the dragon viciously.
Behind him, Aragorn started to stir. The reverberations in the rock had traveled through his skin and roused him abruptly out of his dark sleep. His head throbbed as he sat up and whatever disorientation he felt was driven away when he saw his wife standing before Glaurung, uttering elvish words that were so old even he had difficult understanding them. However, their effect was obvious. Chunks of rock were breaking free through the cave, water was spilling from the ocean in columns of white froth. The Uruk Hai and the Orcs remaining were starting to see the danger and attempting to flee.
"Aragorn, the sword!" Eowyn hissed. The Lady of Ithilien had made her way to the king. "She has the Sword of Turin!"
Aragorn nodded, ignoring the pain to his limbs when he attempted to stand. Crushing it away mercilessly, he felt his body infused with rage and determination, propelled by a singular purpose as he stood up and ran towards Arwen. Glaurung was so busy spouting threats that he did not see Aragorn taking the blade out of her hands and throwing it like a spear at the ancient dragon. Glaurung attempted to escape the sword being hurled at him but it was too late. Turin’s sword, forged from the stuff of stars, sank deep into the creature’s belly. The dragon threw back his head and uttered a roar of agony, fire bellowing out of his mouth as he expressed his pain. Aragorn closed the distance between himself and Glaurung as Arwen continued to chant, oblivious to everything but what she needed to do.
The creature was gripped in pain and attempting to retreat when Aragorn skidded beneath its belly and retrieved the sword. He slashed again at Glaurung’s bleeding torso and rolled out from underneath the dragon as its weight forced it to the ground, avoiding being crushed. The king stood up and rounded the dragon’s body, standing before Glaurung’s massive head. The dragon was mustering all its strength to burn him when a phalanx of arrows and crossbow bolts struck his hide. While it did not penetrate, it served the purpose of allowing Aragorn to deliver the final blow. Not since the ring was taken from Sauron’s finger, had a blade been swung with such purpose. The sword slashed through Glaurung’s vulnerable throat, silencing the final cry that would have escaped the dragon in his last moments.
Glaurung’s collapse coincided with an explosion of sound all around them. The cavern began to crumble with the ocean pouring into the city. What Orcs and Uruk Hai were left were now fleeing in blind panic, trying to seek refuge in the high ground. Aragorn, still holding Turin’s sword in his hand, turned to his wife. He found her in Gandalf’s arm, having fainted from the invocation of such powerful forces.
"Arwen!" Aragorn hurried to her side.
"She is alright," Gandalf quickly explained as the king swept his wife into his arms. "The strain was too much for her."
"We have to get out of here!" Sam shouted, almost as panicked as the Orcs by the deluge that was now rising about them.
"Everyone!" Faramir shouted, leading the others towards the caverns leading back to the Blue Mountains. "Let’s go!"
As the Fellowship and the women made their way through the city, more and more of the cavern began to crumble. Great chunks of stone smashed against the ground until it was raining fragments of debris over their heads. Aragorn clung to Arwen, protecting them both with his body while Gandalf kept behind them, ensuring that the King and Queen were safe from any other threat. He watched briefly as the water swirled around Glaurung’s body, turning it a shade of crimson when it was stained by the dead beast’s blood. This time, there was no resurrection for the dragon. Glaurung’s days of mischief upon the world were finally done.
The company came to a pause when they were a good distance away from the city of Nargothrond. Gandalf had brought down a wall and sealed the rest of the caves to the rising tide behind them. None of the Uruk Hai or the Orcs had escaped the city. Their terror at avoiding the water had sent them scurrying for the heights of the city, instead of escaping the cavern.
Although it would be a few hours before they reached the outside world again, for the moment, the danger was passed and time could be afforded for all the company to catch their breaths and rejoice at being united and all still alive. They journeyed far, fighting terrible odds and even more terrible enemies to reach this point. Gandalf felt that they deserved a rest while they addressed their wounds and made themselves fit to continue their journey. Although none had been injured badly, there were enough wounds to ensure that some measure of healing was required for all members of the company.
"Undomiel," Aragorn whispered as he lay Arwen down on the ground beneath his cloak. She had not stirred since they departed Nargothrond and despite assurances from Gandalf that she was well, he had to see it for himself.
Arwen’s eyelids fluttered at the sound of her name and her sapphire eyes rested upon him as they opened. "Estel," she said softly, her hand resting upon his cheek. "You are alive."
"I would not leave you," he almost cried at the sound of her voice in his ears. Her hand drifted to his cheek and he held it there, his heart swelling from her touch. "I promised you a lifetime and that is what we will have."
"Our baby is safe," she swallowed, unrestrained with her tears. "I kept him safe for us Estel."
"I know," Aragorn took her into his arms and held her tight. "When he is born, I will tell him of how brave his mother was of what she did to ensure that he was born in the light. I love you Undomiel." He parted from her and their lips met in a soft and lingering kiss. "I have never loved you more then this moment."
And they held each other for a long time, forgetting the world and the others because for that one moment they were neither king or queen, elf or man, just two halves of the same heart finally reunited.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.