3. Possessed by Love
Chapter Written by Angmar and Elfhild
That was his voice, that of Fasthelm her husband! She was certain of it! Goldwyn opened her eyes and looked all about the gloomy crypt. She must have dozed off for a moment and dreamt of the day of her wedding. "Still dreaming," she thought, as a slight smile curved her lips.
Unmistakably his, recognizable to her in an instant, there was the plaintive sound again, coming from somewhere far beyond the partly blocked doorway. The voice was disconsolate, calling to her, pleading with her, softly stroking her mind with tender reassurances. "Such a pleasant dream," she mused. It had been so vivid, though... as clear and true as her memory of Fasthelm. She saw the night vision again in her mind... His calloused fingertips caressing her face as his firm lips brushed over her beauty spots... the heat of his body as he held her trembling against him... his deep voice husky as he ran his fingers through the golden cascade of her hair and looked into her eyes...
His own, dear voice spoke to her now, the voice which she loved so well, the voice that she had missed so much, the voice that she had yearned and longed to hear, the voice that held her heart and soul. Oh, how she had missed that beloved sound! But how could this be? Surely her husband was dead! Was this his spirit then, come back to console her in her sorrow and aid her in her plight? How could she dare believe such a thing! But in her heart, she wanted more than anything to believe that Fasthelm had returned to her!
What a foolish thought! Fasthelm was dead! Dead and gone forever! Imagination and wistful hopes could play cruel jests with wounded minds and hearts. She had heard nothing, nothing! Only the mournful wind sighing through some crack in the broken walls and ceiling of the tomb - that was all.
Fasthelm's voice was only an aural hallucination caused by her weariness, her overtaxed mind and body. She had heard that when people were driven beyond their physical endurance, they could hear and see things that were not there. Bowing her head, Goldwyn closed her eyes and slumped in exhaustion against the wall. As soon as she regained some of her strength, she would leave this foul place.
Behind her closed lids, Goldwyn's eyes perceived a trace of light, but she only sealed her lids tighter. She was hallucinating again! She would keep her eyes tightly shut and the vision would go away.
But it did not! The light only grew brighter!
From beyond the deep passage a pale light flickered like a will-o-the-wisp in a distant marsh. A voice in her mind called to her, urging her to look up. Yes, yes, this was her husband, who had breached the cold realm of death to see her once again! How could she have doubted him? She clasped her hands to her heart. Oh, it was he! Who else could it be? Dear Fasthelm, her true love. Oh, she must hasten to him ere his spirit vanish and be gone from her forever!
But then the light flickered out and all was dark. Goldwyn blinked several times, her eyes readjusting to the gloom which lay heavy all about her. Surely what she had seen was merely another phantom of her imagination, a trick played upon her by eyes unaccustomed to such deep and impenetrable darkness. There was no light; there had never been any light. How could there have been? She was the only living creature within these somber halls, save perhaps for the multitude of tiny spiders which spun their webs between stone columns and within long-forgotten corners.
Could it have been the dim glow of the night, visible through some unnoticed rent in the ancient stone? Her head tilted upward and her eyes scanned the ceiling, searching for any cracks which may have allowed a small shaft of starlight to seep within. But there was nothing, only more darkness. The musty smell which clung to the stagnant air proved the stability of the marble, for if any fresh zephyrs from outside were allowed entry, they would have lessened the stench of decay in these dark halls of the dead. There had been no sound. There had been no light. There had been nothing. She was a fool for ever thinking there could have been anything.
"It was only my weary mind playing tricks upon me," she concluded, wiping the back of her hand across her brow. "I will prove to myself that there is nothing there by venturing forward." Pressing her hand against her bosom, Goldwyn took a deep breath to steady herself and then rose to her feet.
As she climbed cautiously over the jumble of fallen stone which partially blocked the doorway, she felt something clutch at the hem of her skirt. Gasping in alarm, she froze in terror, icy prickles sending tremors down her spine. Slowly she turned around, expecting to see the gleaming eyes of some ghoulish denizen of the crypt, its clawed, bony fingers grasping her skirt, preparing to drag her down with him into the cold earth. She let out a sigh of relief when she find naught but the darkness facing her.
Swallowing hard, she dared herself to investigate just what had captured her dress. She almost laughed when her fingers discovered that her skirt had been caught by nothing more than a jagged fragment of rock that was held betwixt two larger chunks.
"You worry yourself needlessly," she chided herself. Feeling her way with her hands and stepping cautiously, she carefully climbed to the top of the barrier. All was quiet, save for the sound of her breathing. Then partway down the other side, she misjudged her footing in the loose debris, sending a landslide of small rocks crashing down. She held her breath and winced as she heard them clatter against the marble floor beyond.
At last she found herself on solid footing once again. When she took a step forward, she was greeted by a mass of sticky filaments which clung to her face and body, giving evidence that nothing living save the spiders had passed this way for endless years. Tearing them away from her face and hair, she flung them aside in disgust and plucked off the clinging remainders of the threads with her fingers.
Goldwyn took a deep breath and pondered her next step. She had to find her bearings before advancing, and to do that, she must guide herself by her hands. Her right hand groped for the wall, but suddenly she beheld a sight which caused her arm to go rigid, hanging suspended in space, frozen, not even a finger capable of moving. Taking shape far away in the depths of the cavernous chamber was a tiny shimmer of pale green light. There was no mistaking that phosphorescent glow now! Her eyes had not betrayed her after all!
Her breath caught in her chest as her heart pounded wildly, a scream held trapped within the depths of her throat. With wide, terrified eyes, she beheld the orb of light grow brighter and brighter until it illuminated the whole chamber. She watched breathlessly, wondering what phantasmagoric vision that her awe-struck eyes beheld.
And then, slowly, gaining strength by each agonizing moment, the glimmering beam took shape, coalescing gradually, forming shape from the incorporeal glow. Materializing into substance before her eyes was the translucent image of her husband, holding out a brawny arm, palm extended, beckoning towards her. This was no dream or illusion! He had come back, breaking the bonds of the cold spectre of death that had robbed him from her and held him captive! A look of rapturous wonder came over her face as her fear fled away. Blissful, wonderful warmth filled her heart as she beheld the presence of her beloved, and she flung her hand to her bosom as emotion overflowed within her.
The voice called to her softly, imploring. "Long have I searched for you, through dark places and desolate."
"Oh, my love!" Goldwyn exclaimed, fresh hope swelling in her heart. The old tales were true! Spirits had the power to come back! Oh, how she longed to clasp his hand once again!
"How I have hungered for you! Will you let me come near?" the voice murmured gently, caressing her soul with the serenity of its familiarity. She knew that it was his, her own husband's voice, talking to her in those comforting tones which he had used on quiet evenings when the boys were asleep. Now he spoke to her again, even from beyond the grave!
"Oh, yes, my husband! How I have yearned for your touch all these many months that you have been gone!"
Goldwyn felt a cool hand on hers and attempted to catch it within her grasp. Much to her disappointment, her fingers touched only the invisible ethers and passed through, grasping nothing but the hand of memory. A caressing touch brushed against her cheek, and she smiled with wistful sadness.
"But I perceive that you still hold some fear of me. How can this be? Surely you do not believe that I am some chimera?" The voice sounded hurt, disbelieving, incredulous. "Have I not proved to you that I am... your... husband?"
"'Tis no fear of you, but of this dread place," she offered in excuse, embarrassed that he had perceived her apprehension.
"There is naught to fear from me, but if you do not wish my presence..." The sentence dwindled away in sadness.
"No, no! I have missed you for so long!" How could she bear to cast him off, to lose him when they had just found each other again!
The sorrowful look upon the spirit's face changed into a wistful smile. "Then willingly open your arms, your heart, and your soul, so that we may commune, to be as one as we once were."
A low, murmuring moan escaped her lips as she closed her eyes and stretched her arms out to him. "I want that so much... so very much! I have been lost without you! There is nothing without you, my husband! I am surrounded by enemies and took shelter in this dread place from the orcs who chase me!"
"Naught will ever harm you while I am your protector. Never do you need to be separated from me, for I have come back for my own," the voice barely whispered.
"Oh, my love!" she moaned as she felt lips upon hers, her husband's lips.
She felt comforting arms go about her waist and saw his face misted through the veil of her tears, like a phantom in a rainstorm. As she leaned against him, she felt his hand stroke up and down her back. "No dream this!" she sighed as his presence grew ever more substantial. His slow, tender caresses reverberated deep within her being. She heard him moaning and felt herself being gently lowered to the floor.
The transparency of his form gave way to flesh and blood, and Goldwyn could see the blue eyes and striking features of her husband clearly now. The air about them began to glow with a greenish hue, a livid, sickening shade, phosphorescent like the glow emitted by decaying corpses. A dull ache began to throb behind her temples, and she felt weak, so weak. Oh, what was happening to her? Surely the feeling was only the rushing emotion and excitement of seeing him once again and the exhaustion brought on by her desperate flight through the ruins.
"What is the light that shimmers around you?"
"An illusion of the mind, my love," the voice assured her. "I have you; do not be afraid."
Goldwyn tried to make herself comfortable, cradling the back of her head on her arm, sheltering it from the rough stone floor. She closed her eyes, and when her eyelashes fluttered open, she was in her own bed once again. A candle glowed on a table by the window and she felt at peace as her husband slid into bed beside her. Clasping her arms around his neck, she held him as his lips came down upon hers in an urgent kiss.
There was a vague sense of shuddering regret as she felt the spirit's cool essences invade the sanctity of her being. At the moment of penetration, she felt utterly voluptuous, as though her body had been sumptuously prepared for a carnal feast of sin. Her hard nipples were covered with honey, her jutting breasts perfumed and garlanded with ripened fruit, her thighs dripping with cream and spread wide, obscenely inviting all men to come and partake. Delighting in visions of all manner of fornication and debauchery, she writhed in languorous ecstasy upon an altar of lust, thrusting her hips upward. Her hand moved down, beckoning the living, the dead, and those who dwelt between the realms to sate their hunger upon the chalice of dew-drenched strawberries which lay betwixt her quivering ivory legs and drink of the sweet ambrosia which flowed like waterfalls from her deep pools of seething passion.
Though her head began to throb with a greater intensity, the pleasure was greater than the pain as the phantom thrust deeply into her chamber of love. He kissed her again with devouring caresses and held her tightly as he twisted inside her like a serpent.
"Soon to be mine," he murmured. "I will claim you at last!"
"Oh yes," she moaned, her back arching in ecstasy.
"All mine," the voice hissed. Suddenly Goldwyn felt as cold as the marble floor beneath her as tingling fingers of fiery ice clenched her body. A shudder tore down her spine, and she screamed when she felt a tugging, ripping sensation, as though everything vital inside her was being wrenched from her body. She lay there, half in a swoon, powerless to combat what was being done to her. And the cold! It was now intense, frigid, enveloping her in its chill. And the pain! It raced through her body, as though her being were fragmenting into splinters of cascading light.
"You are mine," the voice declared triumphantly, "all mine... you... your body..." The voice was chanting over and over, the words drumming into her mind with a solemn finality. No longer did this being sound like her husband, but alien, a stranger, an intruder. "Your beautiful body... how I want it..." His kisses grew more ardent, and her anguish intensified.
"What are you doing to me?!" she cried, powerless to resist him and his will over her.
"Our union will soon be complete," the voice told her. "And then it will be over, all over."
"I am in pain," she mumbled, struggling weakly like a dazed insect in a spider's web. "Please stop!" She wondered momentarily why his body felt so heavy, like the crushing force of a grindstone, forcing her heart to labor as she struggled to breathe. Her husband had always been so gentle, even in his deepest passion.
"Only a little more pain," the voice comforted, "until all desire is realized."
The spirit looked down at her, smiling as he caressed her face with long, thin fingers. So gentle, so comforting... so cool and soothing. Goldwyn felt her body relax, the pain seeping away to be replaced by a sense of dreamy lassitude. She sighed in deep contentment, as though her spent breath would drive all the unhappiness from her life and soul. Her life flickered with only a pale glimmer, her heart laboring to beat, her breathing shallow. Her body felt lightweight, as though she could float away. Indeed, one tiny, fraying silver thread was all that held her spirit to her frail body. She no longer cared what he did to her as long as he stayed inside her, joined to her... forever.
As the demon neared the boiling maelstrom of his release, his howling cries of triumph echoed through the chambers of her mind. The whirling torrent of his essence spread throughout her body, rolling through her being like liquid, melding into her blood, merging with every sinew, nerve and bone. Every fibre of her body was being ripped, shredded and crushed in a wine-press that would sunder soul from flesh. But she did not care. She was floating away in his arms...
"I want to sleep," Goldwyn mumbled. "I am so very sleepy..."
"Then sleep now and be at peace forever."
Far away, a great, dark door began to grind closed with a grim finality. A furtive shadowy form darted across her mind, and she raised an arm to drive it away. In spite of her protests, the great paw of a massive catlike beast with gleaming silver fur caught the door as it swung shut. The hinges resisted, groaning in complaint, but, growling, the beast thrust the door aside and flung it from its hinges. She turned her head to watch the interloper as it crouched upon coiled muscles, preparing to spring upon a dark serpent.
"No, no!" The thing that had bored its way into her body hissed like an icy serpent whose prey was crawling just outside of his reach. Goldwyn felt his unseen tentacles loosen their hold upon her soul and flesh. Her eyes closed, she lay panting upon the stone cold floor, her dress pushed up around her hips, her thighs spread wide apart. A vision came to her of Fasthelm lying upon a battlefield in the darkest hour of the cold night, a lance thrust through a great, bleeding hole in his chest. His arms reached out for her, clutching, grasping, longing to hold her in his dying moments.
"The light is blinding me!" the phantom screamed in her face, even as the scene changed into a vision of the explosion of the sun's fiery fury at the very moment of her advent. "Fire and the baleful light of dawn!"
Far towards the entrance of the crypt, there was the sound of a great crash, as though some heavy weight had been hurled aside.
"Quickly, men!" a man shouted at the entrance of the tomb. "Someone is in here! I heard the sound of a woman screaming! Hold the light for me!"
Brandishing torches, the men stormed into the chamber. Dimly, as though through a mist, Goldwyn beheld the flicker of torches and lamps. The ethereal being coalesced into dust particles, hanging above her, just out of her reach. Slowly the image began to dematerialize and fade away. The evil presence retreated completely from Goldwyn's body, but there was little rejoicing at its defeat. She felt a deep ache, an endless chasm of sorrow, as though the wraith had rent her heart in twain and stolen part of her soul.
"Do not leave me, Fasthelm! Come back!" she wailed as she extended her arms upward, reaching for him, but he was gone, slid away back whence he had come. The somber blackness of the crypt overcame her, and she fell back in a swoon upon the floor.
As through a mocking dream, she heard the spirit's railing words, "I will return, and when I do, there will be no more struggle and you shall be MINE!"
Handing the torch to one of the orcs, Tushratta bent down and lowered Goldwyn's skirt to cover her wantonly exposed nudity. "This is one of the women who escaped!" he exclaimed, gently touching her face. "I had thought someone with her, for she was reaching out as though to clasp a lover. Yet there is no other here save her!" He shook his head in bewilderment. "And her words - though I do not know her language, her voice was wrenched with sorrow! She is so pale... her skin is cold and clammy, as though death itself has kissed it!" Laying his ear to her chest, he picked up her wrist and counted her pulse beats. "The lady's heart is scarcely beating!"
An orc bent down on his haunches and peered into the woman's face. "What ails the wench, Physician?"
"A fainting spell caused by some great terror," Tushratta muttered as he stooped down and picked the woman up in his arms. "The atmosphere of this damp place is unhealthful, probably contaminated by vaporous mists that sometimes gather about old tombs and mines! We must take her from this foul place and get her into the pure air! Hold the light for me!"
"Let's get out of here," the orc muttered, looking about himself fearfully. "Garn! This old Gondorian tomb gives me the creeps! There are spirits here, ancient ones, dark and evil, and they don't want us here!"
Eager to leave the place of dread, they were quickly down the steps, gathering in front of the mausoleum. "You there," the physician motioned to an orc nearby, "spread your cloak upon the ground and I will lay her atop it. The rest of you are to construct a stretcher out of spears and cloaks."
As Tushratta waited, he knelt down beside Goldwyn's prone form, frowning as his eyes swept over her body. There was no sign of any injury that he could see. Giving her a perfunctory examination, the physician was satisfied that there were no obvious broken bones, but he was completely baffled as to what was the nature of her ailment.
"Lady, what strange malady has befallen you?" The physician looked down at her closed eyelashes, which were a dark smudge against her ashen face. Marveling at her beauty, he saw her as the image of the Goddess of Love, wrought marvelously in ivory and gold. Her hair gleamed in the soft torchlight like burnished gold, and he longed to stroke the lustrous strands of silk.
When the orcs had finished preparing the stretcher, the physician placed the lady upon it, pillowing her head upon one of his men's cloaks and covering her with his own. Satisfied that she was secure, he looked up to see the first light of dawn tinging the eastern sky over the mausoleum.
"Forward, men! Let us get back to camp!"
"Lady, what have you endured this night?" Tushratta asked silently as he walked beside her stretcher. "What have you seen that has left you chilled and speechless? I am baffled... I wonder..." He stroked his neatly trimmed beard. "I must consult with my scrolls when I return to the camp. Perhaps the answer lies there."
Tolkien writes about possession and the "hungry houseless" spirits in "Of-Rebirth and Other Dooms of Those That Go to Mandos," "Laws and Customs Among the Eldar," Morgoth's Ring, p. 223-224.
"Some say that the Houseless desire bodies, though they are not willing to seek them lawfully by submission to the judgment of Mandos. The wicked among them will take bodies, if they can, unlawfully. The peril of communing with them is, therefore, not only the peril of being deluded by fantasies or lies: there is peril also of destruction. For one of the hungry Houseless, if it is admitted to the friendship of the Living, may seek to eject the fëa from its body; and in the contest for mastery the body may be gravely injured, even if be not wrested from its rightful habitant. Or the houseless may plead for shelter, and if it is admitted, then it will seek to enslave its host and use both his will and his body for its own purposes. It is said that Sauron did these things, and taught his followers how to achieve them."
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