10. Chapter 9: The Dark Places
How long had she been asleep? She didn't know. She awoke with the cool touch of fingertips on her bare shoulder. She opened her eyes to see the long blonde hair of a man she once loved. Almost as venomously as the Af'aa that were notorious killers in Harad, she whispered, "Go away."
"Alatar, you've been here for hours. Go to your room get some sleep." Glorfindel picked up a book that had fallen from her hands. "The Silmarillion. Do you not know all about this history of our world?"
"Why do you never listen to me? And no, there is something dark tugging on my mind. I intended to research it." Alatar stood her full height, standing only a little shorter than Glorfindel. She put a hand on his shoulder, just as he had done to awaken her. "You are no less weary than I. You need rest as well." She could tell with just a touch. She was The Healer, a title she had intended to pass to Eruain. Her daughter had already started to show signs of potential, something her other children had none of. Eruain, she knew, had some preordained purpose for her potential just as the fires stirred in Mordor. This was what they had been waiting for since her mission began. A time for her knowledge and skills to prosper, if only she knew the time to use them.
"You know we Elves have little use for sleep. It is not something we require. I will only gain rest when I see Eruain to safety once more. I will not stop pursuing her rescue." Glorfindel turned from her to the dim twilight that covered Imladris. The rich purples were something to delight in; something Eruain loved so, as they kissed the dark forest of grass below it. The shimmering lanterns of the sailing elves dotted the wooded valley. Abandonment was the hurt welling up inside of him as he watched them go. A pang of guilt swiftly followed for he had no knowledge of the immense abandonment Eruain must feel in the callous and vicious hands of the enemy.
Alatar stubbornly put her hurt and angered emotions aside as she pulled him close. All of her negative feelings toward him were quieted as he enveloped her in an embrace they were vaguely familiar with. The act of love was not overlooked by the eavesdropper just outside the window in the large oak. Arwen cried softly to herself from within the branches. Although she knew Alatar could not sense the intense depression radiating from Glorfindel, she could. Eruain, the center of their reunion, weighed deeply upon them. She was what drove every action taken by Alatar and every action taken by Glorfindel. She was their daughter, the one Glorfindel had failed. These emotions that drove them together in a blinding lust for seeking Eruain's safety were something she and Aragorn would never share. Their love never as powerful as this extremely aged couple who knew exactly what the other needed. Arwen would never be as close to Aragorn as Alatar was to Glorfindel. Though the wizard and elf had spent most of their lives upon Arda separately, they were inconceivably linked. And it was something Arwen gluttonously desired.
In unspeakable desperation, she fled from the tree, falling gracefully to the ground. This act was not unknown to Elladan, Elrohir, and Elrond who watched both parties from the Gardens of Imladris. Muttering quietly to themselves they made a decision.
"Ada, I wish to venture to Lothlórien. I have need of the Lady of the Wood's mirror," Elladan did not turn from the soft, endearing scene of the aged lovers who had found solace in their embrace and the other's lips.
"Of course, Iôn, I understand." It was then Eruain's rescue started and Elrond could see that it would take too long.
The next day the sons of Elrond were departed and had taken their sister, the Evenstar, with them. The whole of Imladris were there to see them off. Songs of well-wishing and safe travels echoed throughout the valley. The last lingering glimpse of Arwen fell upon Elrond. It was a journey she never wished to embark upon, nor did she wish to leave her people.
As he had awoken her, he had held to tight as he mumbled words about her safety and a vision he had had concerning her place near Galadriel. As he had thought, she was completely uncooperative in wishing to leave Imladris, but had obeyed her father's wishes and packed for the long month's journey to the Golden Wood. Elrond, now, felt horribly alone. His wife was beyond the sea, his children were venturing off into the wild and he held no control over anything.
Turning swiftly to Alatar as they entered the library after the departure of his children, he commanded, "Summon Olórin. We need his council."
"What for, Lord Elrond?" Alatar and Glorfindel were standing quite far away from each other, as if they were still angry with each other. They were fooling no one. Elrond could sense the tension between their bodies, the need to hold the other shone on their faces.
"Mithrandir will have information about Isildur's Bane."
"How would he know?" Alatar was somewhat wounded by the fact that Olórin would have information about the Ring. He had been the least helpful of the Istari and Alatar had no idea why he had been sent to complete the mission with them.
"He had been watching the creature Gollum."
"Had been watching?" Glorfindel was surprised the Mithrandir had let Gollum escape.
"He delivered Gollum to Mirkwood and it was their guard that let Gollum slip away into the night." Elrond sat in one of the chairs, his age was becoming fatiguing. This whole ordeal, predestined, was especially tiring. He never thought that the Ring would make another appearance in his lifetime. He had thought that maybe it was lost in the recesses of the world, but no, it had been found again. Why had it all happened this way? "Please, just summon him, Alatar."
"Of course, Lord Elrond." She left.
Elrond closed his eyes and whispered, "War is coming."
"Haraduien," she whispered, tossing and turning on her bed. Her eyes slid open slowly, taking in the dark surroundings. It was Annatar's idea to keep her in the dark, so she would be more accepting of sleep and so she didn't know what day it was. It was a dungeon, one filled with luxuries such as a large bed, a bookshelf, a side bathroom and other such necessities. She never had any visitors now that she was with child. Annatar never came to her. Onnedhiel only came once a week, maybe a little more. No her constant visitor was the Masked Man. Now, he was constantly with her. He was not only in her dreams but in her room, speaking nonsense and deep things to her. He, as he proclaimed, was her lover, the father of her child. He'd sing to her, read to her, love her.
"You should not speak that name in front of me, Naraca." He was the only one to consistently call her 'Naraca'. "But I forgive you, sweetheart," he kissed her on the forehead.
"Please, I did not mean it," she moaned as he took her hand. Even though he had 'forgiven' her, he did not want her to forget her transgression. Taking a knife, he cut a line across her left thumb, shallow but right on her knuckle. "I'm sorry. I won't do it again," she spoke around the cut on her thumb that she had thrust into her mouth.
"I love you so much, dear," he stroked her head, kissing strands of hair. He moved his lips to her neck, dragging them down into a laying position. There he bruised his reluctant but obedient wife. After a bit of this passion, he took the knife and scratched a little cut on her throat and began to suck.
"Stop, please," she whispered and he did. His mouth covered in blood reminded her of Annatar and how he had bitten her stomach. "You remind me of Annatar," she continued to whisper.
"Is that so bad, love? We're practically the same."
"No, you are not. You haven't left me."
"Ah, so that is the reason you have been more welcoming of me. No matter who I kill or have you kill, I am here for you. I provide you with a basic need, no? The need of interaction."
Drawing her into a hug, he whispered, "Just think, I will be with you always." He pointed to her forehead. "In here." And then he moved his finger to her breast. "And in there. I reside in those dark places of the human soul." After laying there for a while, he finally spoke again. "I want to show you that Annatar does not love you like I do."
"Please, I don't really want to see. I tired of being torn apart by supposed lovers."
"I am not Annatar, nor am I Elladan or Haraduien. Come on." He pulled her off the bed and led her out the door she had not tried to use. As she stepped over the rug in front of her door, things seemed to change. They were in the dungeon, it was dark, and she heard moaning of women.
"What is this place?"
"How many are down here?"
"Hundreds. He will tire of you eventually and when he does, this is where you'll stay in the depths of Minas Morgul." He led her down a ways and took her to the largest cell. It housed a young woman and three children, all of which bore Annatar's white blonde hair. "Hello, Freya," he whispered in Sindarin.
She nodded her greeting.
"This is Naraca, the full Naraca, the one you could not be."
"She looks like a savage, Hurin." She barely looked at Eruain, but kept cross-stitching a small tapestry with horses on it. Rohirrim, Eruain labeled her.
"Hurin?" Eruain looked up at the Dream Thief. "Is that your name?"
"Yes, fitting isn't it. The hidden one, the concealed one. Do you like it, love?" He had switched to Quenya when talking to her.
"Fitting? Yes. Did you name yourself?"
"No, it was the Dark Lord's wisdom that labeled me such." Switching to Sindarin, he smiled darkly and whispered to Freya, "Do you have any advice for your queen, little Rohirric slut?"
"Yes," she hissed. "Your Lords are but one. Now leave."
Hurin led her back up the corridor, and spoke softly in her ear, "Now, just what do you think that means, love? 'Your Lords are but one?' I figure she's insane."
"That insanity is what I am succumbing to."
"Darling, that is the truth. I mean you never even left your room." They were back, lying on her bed as though it seemed as she never left. Mind tricks were his domain and she could not help but fall victim. "Oh, look," he ran a hand across her stomach. "You are almost due."
Looking down, she saw the enormous swell of her belly. And then he pushed hard on it and something inside of her burst. Water coated her sheets and a terrible pain racked her body. "What did you do to me? Did you kill it?"
"No, I'm giving life. Onnedhiel!" he yelled for her midwife. "You're in labor, dear."