4. Chapter 4
But it was too late. Her body was overruling her mind, the cold, dark walls fading into view, the wail of hunger clawing at her belly. The lamp was guttering, flicking dark shadows onto the ceiling, the stench of seeping, musty stone mixing with the shameful smell from the bucket in the corner. Her blanket had slipped to the floor, leaving her shivering in the damp air, and she tugged it back into place. But there was no food here either. She had eaten the last of the loaf the day before. The rough, coarse bread, of a kind that she would not have even fed the servants, now loomed in her memory like a feast.
Getting slowly to her feet, she moved to the water bucket. It was getting low too, the last inches gritty with dust. She dipped some and gulped it down. Perhaps it would quieten the hunger enough to let her escape again.
Footsteps sounded outside the door. Fear, familiar and leaden dragged at her limbs, abhorrence crawling across her skin, but her traitorous stomach clamoured in anticipation of being fed. She pulled the blanket closer about her shoulders, drawing the barest scrap of comfort from its rough weight, and braced herself as the door opened.
The smell of food hit her immediately, the warm wholesome aroma of hot soup and fresh bread causing her mouth to water uncontrollably. She tightened her hands about the edges of the blanket and looked Marlûk in the eye as he entered.
She was standing waiting as he opened the door. Her drawn face was hollow-eyed and etched with loathing, but the look of hunger was unmistakable. He smiled slowly to himself as he closed the door, this was going so well. Ignoring her restless eyes, he crossed to the pallet and set down his tray, seating himself cross-legged upon the mattress.
“Hungry?” He asked with a slow grin, as he uncovered a dish of thick broth, releasing a delicious steam into the room.
She made no reply but her throat moved as she swallowed, and she could not take her eyes from the food.
“Come.” A misshapen hand patted the place beside him. “Eat.”
Warily, suspicion clouding her face, she edged along the wall and crouched at the very end of the pallet, as far from him as possible.
His yellow eyes fixed on her, hunger of a different sort in their aberrant depths. “Closer, my pretty one.” He growled.
She clutched the blanket more tightly about her but she did not move.
He smiled to himself again, and looked away from her, turning his attention to the food. Slowly, he stirred the horn spoon through the soup, savoury curls of steam raising the rich aroma. From the corner of an eye, he saw her edge towards him. He broke off a small corner of the soft white loaf, no more than a mouthful, and dipped it into the dish. He turned towards her, holding out the morsel, warm and tasty.
Celebrían trembled, but whether from fear or anticipation she did not know. His fingers were thick and heavy, the blunt claws dark and vile, but the food they held was soft and fragrant.
‘Do not take it.’ part of her whispered. ‘It is what he wants.’
But her hunger was loud and distracting. If she ate it would be silent and she could leave again.
The long outstretched arm did not waver, a drip of soup fell onto the floor, a precious drop wasted. She swallowed, her mouth wet and craving, the warm taste almost palatable.
She snatched it from him and crammed it into her mouth, intending to savour it slowly, but unable to prevent herself from gulping it down. The momentary satisfaction was soon drowned by a storm of hunger, the uncontrollable watering of her mouth washing out every last dreg of deliciousness, dissolving every melting crumb. Vainly she licked at her fingers, but it was finished, gone.
He was holding out another. Greedily she stretched out her hand for it, but he lifted it away, holding it out of reach, shaking his head with a lascivious grin. Dismay and disappointment engulfed her, tears of frustration springing to her eyes. She dropped her hands, and he returned the titbit, leaning forward, bringing it towards her. She raised her hand again to take it, but he grinned, and evaded her grasp, advancing it towards her face.
He wanted her to take it from his fingers. She shuddered with disgust at the dark, gnarled hand, but the golden broth seeped into the moist bread, the tempting aroma a torment to her flooding mouth. He brought it closer, she could almost taste it now. Perhaps if she did not look.
Her eyes closed as her mouth opened. The pale lips parted just enough to reveal the pink, hungry mouth, her anticipation glistening. Marlûk felt his breath quicken.
“Wider.” He whispered, and when she complied he placed the reward on her tongue, a slow smile of satisfaction and anticipation on his coarse features.
She ate quickly, then looked at him for more. He held up another piece, knowing that once the edge was gone from her hunger she would no longer submit. Again, he held it before her, again she closed her eyes before taking it, but this time her mouth opened willingly, stretching towards him almost with eagerness. He pushed the morsel between her lips, his own mouth watering in response, while down below he hardened.
He moved very slightly closer. She did not draw back.
‘Look at me.’ He growled as he brought another offering. Want and shame, need and loathing, vied in her soft grey eyes, giving over to momentary pleasure as he thrust the sop into her mouth.
‘Just one more,’ he thought, ‘then the wine.’
This time as he fed her, watching every nuance in her gaze, every play over the delicate features, he left a finger in just long enough for her lips to close about it. The pleasure that shot through him at the soft wet warmth vied with that from her recoil of horror, her mouth twisting in disgust.
He laughed, a guttural growl, then picked up the wine cup and filled it.
“Here.” He held it out to her, smirking. “Take the nasty taste away.”
She took it warily, and sipped.
Marlûk watched the dark red liquid stain the lips and knew he must have them tonight. Perhaps he should try out Norburz’ gift.
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.