5. Ch. 4: Too Late
Chapter 4: Too Late
The horn. The goddamn horn, she thought. Can no one hear it? She galloped faster. Where in the world are they? She weaved in and out of the trees, tighter and quicker each time. The horn was louder now. She was nearing them; she could hear the screams of the foul beasts and of her friends. "Noro lim, Veassen!" she urged her stallion forward at an almost dizzying pace as she wove between the trees she so loved. Why has no one answered the call? Where are our soldiers?
Then she was upon them. But she spied no golden hair or the tall frames of Elrond's sons. Just three dead elves. She slowed her horse and fell from the saddle, sliding to the ground. Hesitantly, she crouched beside their bodies, running her right hand along their torsos. There were arrow holes in their chests, but the arrows were missing. Cautiously, she stood, and drew the hidden blade from Veassen's saddle. She lowered herself to the ground once more, listening for anything that would give the enemy away. It was dead silent. There were no more horn blasts from either an elvish horn or of an orcish one.
They arrived at the gate a little after the rain had started. The guard had just changed and there was a welcoming party for them. Elladan and Elrohir were the first off their horses, excited to finally see their friends. Elrohir spied Arwen and beckoned her over. "Sister!"
Arwen came and curtsied before them. "My victorious brothers, good day." She hugged them both.
"Hail the gracious Evenstar," Elrohir remarked. "She knows who the true protectors of her people are."
"Yes, Elrohir, I know." She looked over to Elladan, who was looking around in the crowd. "Elladan, what bothers you?"
"Where is Eruain?"
"I thought she rode out and met you." Arwen hastily warded away worry, "Maybe she was stopped by someone and is still conversing with them. I'm sure it is nothing to worry about, brother."
"I suppose so, but I'd better check with the guard." He left swiftly for the gate. He had made up his mind to propose to her while he was away. He thought it was about time they faced their attraction and acted upon it. He did not find it strange that he wanted to have children with her or that he wanted to spend eternity with her. Elrohir had told him, when Elladan consorted him about the proposal, that Eruain was but an elfling to them. She was only 23 when they had hundreds of years on her.
As he approached the guard, he asked, "Sentinel, did the Lady Eruain pass through these gates?"
"My lord," he bowed lowly, "I do not know. We have only just changed guards. Daugion was the last guard. He's over by Glorfindel, my lord. He should know." Practically running over to Daugion, he was soon upon him.
"Ah, Elladan, running from your sister?" Glorfindel chuckled.
"No, I must speak with Daugion." Turning to the guard, he asked, "Did Lady Eruain travel outside of Rivendell to meet us?"
"Aye, my lord, she did. Was not but a few minutes before the storm that she had left." Confused, he commented, "Would she not have met you on road, though?"
"She should have. But she did not meet up with us. Do you have any idea if she came back?"
"I did not see her come. If Megildur did not mention she came back, then she's not back." He turned and whistled. Nineteen soldiers came to his side. "I can send out a search party if you want."
"Thank you, Daugion. Lord Elladan and I will go ahead now. Please follow shortly," Glorfindel took Asfaloth, who was tethered nearby, and led him by the reigns over to where Elladan was re-saddling Lainathion. Mounting, Glorfindel sent him a worried look. He knew about the proposal and was personally happy for his adoptive daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, that is if she would have him. Her being missing made him nervous. If she was taken hostage or killed, he never would forgive himself for failing Alatar.
With a blast from a horn, they were off, passing through the gates.
It was so quiet. There was not a rustle of leaves on the ground. She was too far from Rivendell to hear any movement. She was all alone in the woodland stillness. She could sense the impending evil and Veassen shifted nervously next to her. There was something that wasn't right.
Then she heard it: the most bone-chilling, marrow-curdling scream. And then the most torrid pain erupted from the script on her back. It was as if the letters were molten lava and were burning her alive.
He sped his horse as fast as he could. Who knew what dangers lurked in these woods? Who knew what horrors she could suffer? He could not lose her. She was to be his bride. She meant too much to him. If she died, how could he go on?
Then the worse happened. A piercing scream cut across the silence.
He looked over at Glorfindel, who yelled, "Nazgul!" They urged their horses as fast as they could go.
The voice of death itself was breathed from beneath the black rider's hood. "Eruain, bride of our Lord." Behind it, on horses as black as night, two other riders in black sat. "Come or face death."
"What is it you want with me, demons?" She tried to clamber to her feet, struggling greatly in pain.
"You will see, she-human." The rider nudged his horse closer. "Come, time is valuable."
She fingered the strap on Veassen's saddle, tightening it. "Tell me one thing, please, and I will come. Why me?"
"The Dark Lord chose you. That is it." Impatiently he drew closer.
It was in a quick second she made her decision. Flinging the small knife in her hand, she threw it towards the riders' leader and it drove home, hitting him in the chest. In panic, she scrambled up into Veassen's saddle and urged him into a gallop, weaving between the close knit trees. Reaching behind her, she grabbed her most valuable thing in her possession at that moment, a horn. Desperately she blew it, over and over and over again, hoping someone would hear it before the forest thinned and the plains opened up.
A shrill horn sounded over the woods, followed by the outraged cries of the Nazgul. "Towards the plains! She's heading to the plains!" Elladan yelled over the wind blowing in his ears. The terrified sounds of the elvish horn tore his heart to pieces. He could do nothing as she fled for her life against the Nazgul. Who knew how many of them that were in the wilderness? Who knew if she was hurt or not?
"Noro lim Lainathion! Please!" He felt as if the whole world was crashing about him, crushing his dreams and his hopes. It was the most terrified he had ever felt, more scared than when his mother was taken. "Faster!" That horn was blown faster and faster; it was as if she did not need to breathe.
She was now wide open on the plains. Veassen snorted in exhaustion, but was slowed. Eruain kept blowing the horn, even though she was dubious that someone had actually heard her. "Keep going, Veassen, please," she begged, winded. "You're done well already."
She dared not to even look behind her. She had not the heart or energy to do so. It had even occurred to her that she should just surrender. That all she was doing was pointless.
She made her decision and started to slow down. The Nazguls screamed in delight.
Their delight did not last long. The elves had now entered the plains. Their stronger, faster horses would easily overtake the foul steeds of the Nazgul. One of the elves blew their horn triumphantly; alert the Nazgul and Eruain of their arrival.
"Only a little farther!" Elladan was so close.
As the elves thundered across the plains, Elladan realized they were too late. A fell beast descended, its large wings blocking out the trace amounts of sunlight. They stopped as the Nazgul-like thing upon the winged beast landed and slid off of it right in front of Eruain. Elladan was literally thirty feet from Eruain, but was forced to halt.
"Return to your woods, he-elf," the rider sneered. He was dressed in all black, except his mouth, a hideous mouth, was unclothed. "This is the prize for Sauron."
"Help me! Please!" Her eyes were wild as she struggled against the, ugly mouthed man.
"Let her go, creature of evil," Elladan spat hatefully.
"Please, let's get acquainted with one another. I am the Mouth of Sauron. This is his bride, Naraca. You I assume are the son of Elrond. You look so much like daddy. And that is Glorfindel. I remember you. And then there are the other elves and the Nazgul. Details, details." Smacking his chapped lips, he smiled. "This is what is going to happen. I will take your lovely friend here. God, she looks delicious. She smells like a virgin, probably tastes like one too. I digress. So I'll take her to Mordor. She will then be tortured, raped, and be forced to bear the heirs of the Dark Lord. She will never see sunlight again, or feel the cool of the wet grass, or have the comfort of trees. No, her mind will be filled of when the next torture is, living in fear for the rest of her days." He sneered once more. "Sad, I know, and there is nothing you can do about it."
"Elladan, please! Help me, Elladan!" she was almost whispering the harsh Haradaic phrases.
"Oh, shut up," the Mouth of Sauron rolled his eyes and pressed a finger against her back, receiving shrieks of pain from her. "If you don't want her to die, turn around and go home."
Elladan watched her, his love, his life. He watched her shudder in pain. Unable to take no more, he ordered. "Go! Back to Imladris!"
"Watch as he turns his back on you, love," the Mouth laughed whole-heartedly. "Watch as he betrays you." Pushing her onto the fell beast, he climbed on after and started to depart.
As he felt the wind from the downward push of the beast's wings, Elladan turned his horse around and yelled as loudly as he could. "I will stop at nothing to get you back! I will bring you home! And when I do! I will make you my wife! I love you, Eruain! Know that I love you!"
"This game just got more interesting," the Mouth commented to her. But she could not think of anything else than Elladan's promise of hope.