Queen of Gondor II: 1. Chapter 1

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1. Chapter 1

It was day a little while ago. Really. Farielle had taken a basket of filthy rags and bandages down to the river to wash, and the evening sun had glittered off the water. But now, somehow without her noticing, day is gone, and night has fallen. She hurries to put the last of the cloths back into the basket. Not so far away, the dull white of the Gondorian tents glow orange in the soft light of several camp fires, and the girl glances over at them to reassure herself, then lifts the basket to her hip and starts up the path.

 

Just a few steps up to the camp...hardly any room for error here. Miki'al shushes his companions, and watches the woman with the wet cloths in the basket as she rises, turning to return to safety. He counts the steps. One, two...his hands tighten around the rope in his hands, three...then he leaps from the shadows of the tall salt grasses, lunging at the young woman. His hands reach first for her head, more importantly her mouth, to try to stifle any cry for help.

 

A shadow moves, and Farielle turns her head, catching the onrushing man. For a second, she is frozen, then she drops her basket, opening her mouth to scream and turning to run - all at once. Laundry spills over the sandy ground, and she manages a shrill squeak before a hard hand clamps over her mouth and cuts it off.

 

Miki'al tackles the woman to the ground, his two companions leaping up after him, to help him subdue the woman before she can gain her escape. Miki'al's hard wiry body lands on top of the young woman, and he grasps her right hand to pin it down, unable to do more than hold her still. But he has companions. "Ropes! Feet first!" he hisses, trying to keep the noise level down.

 

Farielle struggles, trying to kick or hit, to bite the hand that's across her mouth. But she is a slight lass, and not accustomed to wrestling. The clean cloths are scattered across the path; some of them trampled into the ground by the men and no longer clean. 

 

The girl's eyes are wide, and her chest heaves as she tries to scream - but her cries are muffled. And despite her kicking, someone grabs her feet, forcing them together.

 

The river is not being used as a latrine, though still men come and go from it, washing blood and dirt off themsleves or else just cooling off as they can. Menelglir has just finished doing so, having waded barefoot for some time in the river to cool off, then splashing his head and neck with water, some distance upstream from the woman and her attackers. The Squire, having settled onto the bank for a bit to dry off and then pull his boots back on and secure the rest of his gear, now stands, stretching a little and rotating an arm around slowly, stiffly, as if it has been wounded--which likely it has. The noise of the camp drowns out any cries from downstream, at least so far, but some motion or other seems to catch the Squire's eye, for he stops and stares that way.

 

"Grab one of those..." Miki'al growls, jutting his chin at the clean and less than clean cloths, to indicate his desire. He wrestles her arm across her own body, still putting his hardest weight over her mouth. The legs are being bound with good sturdy rope, and he climbs up her body, straddling her hips with his knees. In the common tongue he asks the woman, "Are you a fine lady then, hmm? Got some lords n ladies in your heritage?" The other companion hurries to fetch a few of the rags, and brings them back, dropping them on Farielle's neck and chest as the two struggle, but keeps an eye on the camp to see if there's been any notice of the hapless girl's plight. Seeing the requested rags fall close by, Miki'al removes his hand from her mouth to quickly grab one.

 

Most of the camp has gone up to the fires, leaving few to look towards the river - and none who do so. Farielle's eyes are wild with panic, and when the man speaks - in common, despite his accent - she gives no sign of understanding. But when he moves his hand, she draws in a swift breath to scream again.  And claws at his face with her free hand.

 

The scream, by chance, carries on the wind, though some of its force is lost. "Hey..." Menelglir says quietly, frowning. Then louder, "Hey!" He's a bit of a distance away, but he starts hurrying downstream along the banks, trotting--then breaking into a run. "Hey! You there!" He draws his sword.

 

Miki'al swears softly in his own tongue, grasping the white rag and quickly shoving it into Farielle's screaming mouth, wincing tightly as her free hand claws at his face as he stuffs more and more of it in, all the way to the back to get the entire rag in completely. "The other hand!" He says to his peers, turning his head slightly away as he tries to get his task completed. Finally he can stand it no more, and grasps her other hand with his free hand, putting her wrists together. "Bind these quick, Takar." he says, holding them out and still for the man with the ropes. He looks up sidelong and wary as the call of perhaps a sentry or...it doesn't matter, he's got a sword.

The third man also hears the challenge, and draws his sword as well, and readies himself to meet the Gondorian man. "Do it quick and go! I will handle this," he says in the Umbarean tongue, and strides forward to close the distance to Menelglir.

 

"You!!" Menelglir shouts loudly now, on clearly seeing an enemy in front of him, with sword drawn. He lunges forward to the challenge, sword thrusting toward the third man's mid section. "Sneaking into the camp, eh?" He has not yet clearly discerned what is going on with the woman, as he has to focus attention on the man with the blade in front of him first.

 

The scream is cut short, and Farielle gags on the rag, and then chokes - her eyes growing wider and wider, tears filling them. She stops fighting though; all her efforts now going into trying to breathe, and panicking further as she fails - then straining against Miki'al's hold to try and reach her mouth.

 

"Was just taking a swim," the Southron answers in the common tongue with a flash of a smile, his white teeth contrasting with his dark skin. He doesn't wait for more conversation though, making the first move as he lunges in low, aiming for Menelglir's thigh.

 

"No no...I need those." Miki'al says, pulling against her pulling hands, seeing her goal to get at the rag. He smiles, or grimaces, either way. Takar wraps the rope around the wrists one, two, three times, quick as a wink, then threads the end through the woman's hands, then around to the other side of to go between her arms. He yanks the bind tight now, then quickly ties a double knot to keep the ends from working loose. Now Miki'al climbs off the woman, rolling her to the side so he can tie one of the other cloths over her mouth and behind her head, so she cannot force the rag out with her tongue.

 

Menelglir twists deftly out of the way, but brings his sword around in a slashing movement to try for his attacker's midsection as he does so. He calls out, loudly, yelling something in Sindarin toward the main camp, though doubtful that anyone will hear.

 

Farielle can't fight any more; all her strength is going to trying to control the gagging reflex. Trying to breathe. She retches, then draws a deep shuddering breath in through her nose, terrified eyes rolling towards where Menelglir's figure can be seen dimly in the shadows. More tears start to her eyes - of pain, this time.

 

The sword cuts across the Umbarean's waist, not quite gutting him, though certainly bringing forth blood. In the waning light, the blood cannot be seen against the man's red shirt, but the smell is strong and hot. "Be quiet." he says, slashing again at the Gondorian, higher now though, trying for Menelglir's neck.

 

Miki'al apparently cares little for the comfort of the lady, lifting her up to force her to stand. "Now. Lets go see if your family tree has any branches." he says almost lewdly, and bends down to grasp her waist with his shoulder, straining to lift her. Takar assists, and once Miki'al's got the woman balanced, he turns slowly and carefully to look at the third man, still engaged in battle, then slowly carefully starts to walk with his prize along the shore, toward Barazon, and more importantly, away from the Gondorian camp.

 

But Menelglir evades the Southron's blade once more, this time by blocking the blow with his own blade, metal clattering upon metal. He pushes hard to force the other man's blade away and back, and then swiftly and with a two-handed stroke, hews at the Southron's neck. "Invaders!! Attackers! We are under attack!" he shouts again, this time in Westron and louder.

 

Farielle's arms hang awkwardly and uncomfortably down; her head banging into them with each step Miki'al takes. And uncomfortable soon turns to painful, as blood rushes to her head and muscles unaccustomed to such a position start to cramp. And it's not much fun having a shoulder stuck in your gut, either. Perhaps these discomforts distract the girl from thinking she'll soon be dead - or worse. Or maybe it is the other way around.

 

Now Menelglir's shouts are heard, and there is a sudden stir up at the camp. Men come running from the fires, around the tents, grabbing up weapons.

 

The man's cry is wordless yet his pain, and his mortal wound is clearly spoken in his tone. Thick dark blood spews from the Haradrim's vein, spraying his opponent with a hot gushing film, though after the first couple of beats the flow lessens noticably, and the man falls to the ground, gurgling.

 

Miki'al speeds his pace with his burden, grunting with every other step, and huffing as he tries to make a quick escape. Takar is right on his heels, having no trouble at all keeping up. Takar glances over his shoulder as the hue and cry goes out. "By the Eye...this is not good." He continues for a couple more steps, then says, "Keep on, I will buy you time." Miki'al, too winded and strained to really respond, just keeps on.

 

The fresh blood makes little difference to Menelglir's blue tabard, which is filthy despite his just having been in the river. He pays little heed to the dying man, except to yank his blade from the man's flesh before rushing onward after the other two. Still, it is precious seconds that he has had to waste, and he has much distance to cover. "Archers!!" Menelglir yells, hoping those behind him understand the suggestion.

 

But they don't. Or if they do, perhaps Menelglir himself blocks any shots. For no arrows come, though the sound of pounding feet tell of the coming of the men themselves. But they are even farther behind than the squire. 

 

And Farielle? She tries to pound on Miki'al's back with her tied hands, but she has no strength left, and the blows are feeble.

 

Indeed, Miki'al doesn't even notice the blows, thinking them merely the swinging of her body against his as he runs in a somewhat gliding motion. He suddenly changes course, heading away from the river. In the twilight, it is hard to see where it is safe to put a foot, and he stumbles more than once.

 

Takar, however, does not wait for the man to catch up to him, instead turning and running back toward the Gondorian camp. He draws his scimitar with the cruel sound of singing steel. He seems to be charging straight toward Meneglir, though at the last second, he dodges to the side, swinging.

 

Menelglir has to chnage course, too, to avoid that blow, twisting about and nearly losing his footing on the wet river bed, so that the scimitar barely misses slashing through his arm. He twists about, off balance, striking a blow toward Takar's back, but it's not full force, as he is out of position.

 

Miki'al's figure is nearly lost in the gloom now, and as the Gondorian soldiers race to Menelglir's aid, they focus solely on Takar, not even aware that there was another man out there. And in their rush, they trample over the basket, and grind once-clean bandaging rags into the ground, and obliterate what tracks the sand may have held.

 

Miki'al's figure is nearly lost in the gloom now, and as the Gondorian soldiers race to Menelglir's aid, they focus solely on Takar, not even aware that there was another man out there. And in their rush, they trample over the basket, and grind once-clean bandaging rags into the ground, and obliterate what tracks the sand may have held.

 

Menelglir's blow is glancing, turning what would have been a crippling blow to the spine a mere cut. He growls in his pain, saying, "Think you'll find that in the dark?" swinging the sword around to try to cut the sword arm of the leading scout.

 

From behind, Menelglir lunges forward with his sword, trying to stab Takar through the back of his legs to cripple him. "Spread out!" he shouts to the arriving men. "Search the banks! There were more of them! And a woman, too--I heard her scream!"

 

Miki'al trudges on, huffing loudly now. "Just like loading sacks of grain..." he says softly to himself, in encouragement, and sets his sights on the outskirts of the Haradrim campsites that beseige the Keep of Caldur, the yellow-orange lights welcoming. He stumbles again.

 

"More?" someone shouts, and the Gondorians spread out, hunting through the darkness by the river, some turning up and some turning down. But Miki'al has left the water, and the shadows that fool his feet also hide him from his pursuers.

 

Takar continues to strike, swinging in large, general arcs at Menelglir's form, as his face and body becomes obscured to mere silhouettes against the cobalt sky of dusk. If he does not strike, he steps forward and swings again. But now there are more of the enemy around, and he turns and runs away from the river, though not going in the exact same direction as his compatriot.

 

It is a scene of chaos. Night has fully fallen by now, and in the darkness run vague forms of shouting men; one or two have torches, which only throw the others into starker shadows, confusing the eye.

 

"More?" someone shouts, and the Gondorians spread out, hunting through the darkness by the river, some turning up and some turning down. But Miki'al has left the water, and the shadows that fool his feet also hide him from his pursuers. (re)

 

It is a scene of chaos. Night has fully fallen by now, and in the darkness run vague forms of shouting men; one or two have torches, which only throw the others into starker shadows, confusing the eye.

 

Leaving the pursuit of Takar to the other men that have joined the chase, Menelglir plunges off downriver, following along the bank. "This way!! " he yells loudly. "To me!"

 

Some of the men hear Menelglir and turn to follow him. Or try to. It's difficult to tell just where he is. But some at least catch up to the Squire. "What?" one demands, between breaths, "Is going on?!"

 

 

Takar stumbles now in the dark, cursing and almost cutting himself with his own sword. He slows down, to save his own skin, relying more on the darkness, and his stealth to sneak away.

 

"A woman was screaming by the bank of the river," Menelglir says, stopping to catch his breath and try to calm the confusion. "I went to investigate, and there are Southrons--one with a sword drawn coming toward me,and two more--they took a woman with them!" He points. "This way they went, into the darkness.." then sighs. "Tis hopeless, I fear."

 

The other men stare into the darkness, trying to see. Then one shakes his head. "We can keep looking," he says, "But I don't think we'll find anyone. Not in this dark!" 

"One of the healers?" asks another, and a third voice, dissatisfied, "Hate to just quit! A woman!"

 

"Then what do you propose?" Menelglir snaps at the two dissatisfied men--or their voices in the dark. "Search for them in the darkness, with torches--marking ourselves as targets for the Southron archers? Trample any tracks that might be found by our Rangers, as we stumble about? Search blindly in the darkness? Go find a Ranger, in any case, and let us get their advice on this matter."

 

"No," the man - whoever he was - sounds subdued. "I know it. It's just..." His voice trails off, and he turns away, going to find the rangers, as suggested. The other man sighs, his mouth twisting bitterly in the darkness. "Better call them off," he says, of the other men who still are searching. Then he lifts his own voice to a stentorian bellow - a sergeant, by the sound of that! - "FALL BACK! TO CAMP!"

 

"To camp," Menelglir says, sighing heavily, though. He gives a last look into the darkness before he follows the rest of the men to camp, coming in last.

 

-----------------

 

As the sounds of the shouting men, speaking in a tongue that does not belong on these shores finally recedes into the distance, Miki'al slows his pace, as much to get his breath as anything, and still he continues, setting his sights on the very closest campfire he can find. Once he is within the warm aura of its golden glow, he finally puts down his stolen prize, standing there breathing hard for just a moment, and also to get a better look at her.

 

Farielle is limp, her eyes shut, though she hasn't fainted. Black hair tangles about a very white face - she is slender, young, probably pretty, though it's hard to tell in these circumstances. And dressed in a plain white smock, a little the worse for the wear.

 

Miki'al takes a big breath, and wordlessly he kneels beside the young woman, and reaches down to pull the gag down off her mouth. "So, wake up...wake up pretty..." he finally says in the common tongue, slapping her cheeks gently. Then he reaches into her mouth to pull out the cloth.

 

The girl shudders and gasps, working her mouth - so dry from all that cloth. Her eyes open, staring at the face above hers; they are dark with fright and revulsion. "Who..?" she whispers, hardly even a croak comes out. "Wh-what do .." She tries to swallow. "What do you want? My - my father will.."

 

"Your father will mourn your loss for many ages, likely," the man says in a cheery voice. "Or else just get busy making a new daughter. Does he already have replacement daughters waiting in the wings?" he asks, smiling. His teeth are bright against his skin.

 

Farielle stares at him. "..pay you," she finishes, at last, faintly. But it hardly seems this man, who speaks so callously of replacement daughters, will want money, and she closes her eyes again, and clenches her teeth against tears.

 

"/Pay me./" Miki'al says in a surprised, asking tone. "Would he now. And what might you be worth? Does he even have money, after ekeing his living out in the cold climes and rocky soil of your land?" He chuckles softly, staring at Farielle's face without shame or embarassment, as if memorizing hers. "Who is your father then, sweet?"

 

The girl's eyes pop open, a spurt of very welcome anger helping to keep her terror at bay. "Of course we have money," she says indignantly. "And it's better than being hot and dirty all the time! Let - let me go. I promise, you will be well paid."

 

Miki'al moves toward the young woman's bonds, and fiddles with them. But rather than untie them, he gives them a sharp jerk, to ensure their tightness. Then, still smiling, he gives her face another couple of soft, condescending pats. "What's your name, girl? And how old are you?" He rises now, walking to the fire.

 

A gasp of pain. "Farielle," the girl says, her anger dying, leaving her voice dull. "Gir-Girithlin." She doesn't answer his other question, but turns her head to stare into the darkness away from the fire with wide, unseeing eyes.

 

"You did not answer my second question..." he says in an even, measured tone. "And what is your father's name? And how much would he pay me NOT," he reaches down to pick up one of the burning sticks from the fire, and turns to look at her, "to brand you as a slave?"

 

There is no response as he begins to speak, but at his last words, Farielle turns her head to look at him, her eyes fixing on the burning stick in horror. "Nineteen," she says faintly. "Wh-whatever you wish." Desperately, she tries to keep her voice from shaking; and succeeds. Mostly. "My father is Caronn. Girithlin."

 

His approach stops as she answers at first, then he hmms softly. "A bit old," he says to himself. Then he continues, flopping himself down on the ground next to Farielle somewhat casually, his arm resting over her hips like she was a bolstering pillow. "I see." He regards the stick, yellow-hot coals breathing excitedly on the tip. He turns it in his hand to view it on other sides. Then he turns his head, looking at her, with a languid smile. Almost conversationally he says, "And what /other/ important relatives are you descended from...other than your father, the great Caronn Girithlin?" He holds the stick closer, where she can see it plainly.

 

"Important relatives," she repeats, sounding puzzled. It is the height of strangeness to by lying here in the dark, tied hand and foot, discussing geneology with a Haradrim. "My mother was a Draudagnir," she offers, hesitantly, darting a glance at his face to see if this is what he wants. The brand moves closer and her eyes return to it, drawn as if by a magnet.

 

Having no idea of the important persons of the lineages of the northmen, Miki'al's expression is somewhat blank. "Draudagnir? Hmm. Tell me. Are the Draudagnirs more befitting in the clothing a slave? Or a princess?" The hot coal, now cooled to a warm orange, is brought even closer to the face, and Miki'al holds the woman down to keep her from thrashing, if she tries.

 

Farielle's breathing is shallow and fast, and her skin is clammy; she swallows hard, trying to press her head back into the sand, turning it sideways as far from the coal as she can; and shutting her eyes once more. "I am not a slave!" she says, hardly able to get the words past muscles so tight they surely must break. Clothing - she snatches at this thought, insane as it is. "I have - better dresses. At home. This - is for healing."

 

The stick stays there for just a moment, the warmth felt on the sensitive skin of her cheek, before he smiles and tosses it back to the fire. "Perhaps I should take you to the Lady then." He rises, looking down at his catch, then looking around for Takar, who still has not rejoined him. He checks her hands to make sure they are not too blue, not too cold, then he lifts her up again, carrying her deeper into the Haradrim encampment.


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.

Story Information

Author: Chelle

Status: General

Completion: Work in Progress

Era: 3rd Age - The Stewards

Genre: Drama

Rating: General

Last Updated: 07/14/11

Original Post: 04/16/11

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