The pair walked in silence until they reached the confines of the great Wood. Each of them mulling over the strange events of the day.
Holding Lithroleah's hand, Caeriel's heart still fluttered as she thought of the beast holding him down, pincers ready to strike, ready to force the poison into him, to squeeze the life out of him. She shuddered involuntarily.
"Caeriel, how feel you?" Lithroleah paused to look the maiden up and down, as if checking her for any other injuries.
"Do not worry! The injury is not as severe as it seems! We both still walk the surface of the earth! Thank the Valar for that!"
Lithroleah smiled shakily. The experience had terrified him. The sense of helplessness and fear that had swept over him came back again.
"Did he not say what the creatures were?" Caeriel asked.
Hands clasped tightly, they walked in the direction of their homes.
It was Lithroleah who spoke next. "Should we report this incident to His Majesty? A proper investigation should be carried out. The creatures pose a real threat to our people. Yet I wonder, as Praneer seemed eager to be rid of the bodies. What could be his motivation?"
"I know not the answers. I wish Legolas were here. Surely he would tell us what to do!" Caeriel said.
Lithroleah looked up sharply. Caeriel's face was filled with a longing. The bile from rose in his throat. He fought down the feelings. Legolas was their friend.
"The Home Guard are alerted to the danger. If the intrusion persists, it will not stay in the dark for long."
Lithroleah kept his thoughts to himself. The dreams, the premonitions, the innocent lives that would be lost.
The sight of a fully clad Hunter crossing their path stopped them in their tracks. His clothes bore the insignia of the elite Home Guard, the very best there was. The Home Guard were rarely seen outside the palace. Thranduil was not sparing his best men in the defence of their kingdom.
Lithroleah made up his mind then. He would not report the issue to the King, and instead, would carry out his own investigation. He knew what he was up against, and the creatures did not. His dark features tightened. He did not understand the rationale behind his thinking, but a small voice whispered to him, telling him that the choice was the correct one.
Yanark grunted: it was a satisfied Orc that made his way back to the caves.
He came into view of the imposing structure, and his heart filled with satisfaction as he saw the sentries bow to him differentially. It did not matter that their eyes were full of barely masked hatred and jealousy. Fear, not respect or friendship drove them. He saw the fear in their bodies, the way they lowered their eyes.
His master appeared suddenly beside him, silent as a wraith. The dark lord had an ability to sneak up on his follows from behind as they complained and whined about him. This habit quickly put an end to all forms of verbal disagreement for good once news got out of what befell the unfortunate creatures.
"Well done, my young servant!" the creature said. His voice was soft and silky, and dripped with malevolence enough to freeze the spine of the most hardened warrior.
"It was an honour to carry out the task that you set for me, my lord!" the Orc replied, quaking in his boots.
"You displayed dexterity I would never have thought possible from so stupid a race like yours. Clearly you rise above the ranks of the common Orc."
"It was Your Greatness who came out with the plan. I merely was a pawn who carried it out!"
Hkaradil chuckled. It seemed to genuinely please his twisted heart.
"Yanark, my friend. I grow to like you more with each passing day! It is so wonderful that an Orc could manage to catch my fancy, do you not think?"
He gave the startled Orc no chance to reply, and continued, "The Elf is better than I thought! Just as the prince was."
"But Master, that was because he was saved by a meddling old fool! Just another few seconds and he would have been dead!"
A flash of anger rose in the creature. It was quickly covered by cool indifference and passed undetected by the bowed head. "Ah. But what use would he be, what purpose would he serve to us dead?"
Yanark knitted his brow, his brain sluggishly trying to search for an answer.
"You have much to learn, and I have much to impart. Like how my plan would unveil itself slowly to ensure its smooth execution. Like how I have to take an apprentice to help me in my quest."
Yanark looked up. Was it true that his master wanted him to be his student? He struggled to maintain a calm face as he listened to the creature who was to become his teacher.
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.