Chapter 8 – New friends, Old enemies
Cold seeped through my clothes, chilling me to the bone. I opened my eyes a crack, testing them out. When no pain erupted behind my eyes, I opened them slowly, until they were fully open. It was completely dark, and I lay still for a moment, allowing my eyes to adjust. I was in a tiny, square room, no more than four paces wide and deep. I lay on the stone floor, up against the back wall. Mould spread across the ceiling, and more crept down the walls. The scent of mildew filled my nostrils, almost making me gag. There was tiny window on one wall, allowing me to see a single star in the night sky outside. Groaning, I heaved myself in to a sitting position. Gingerly, I touched my head. My fingers came away sticky with blood.
Images flashed through my head. Gandalf falling. Celeborn and Galadriel waving goodbye. Boromir falling to his knees, finally defeated. Merry and Pippin being carried away. Legolas. My chest tightened as I remembered him running after me, calling my name, trying in vain to catch up to the Uruk-Hai who carried me. I drew my knees up to my chest, resting my forehead on my knees. I felt cold, inside and out. A gaping hole had opened up in my chest, where my heart should have been. Every time I drew in a breath, I could feel the jagged edges constrict, and then release. I looked down, surprised to see nothing. I was still whole – on the outside. Tears welled up and ran down my face.
I had failed again.
Boromir was dead – I knew it. Who knew where Merry and Pippin were by now? It was my job to protect them and I had let them be taken away. A sob burst out, followed by another, and another. I squeezed my eyes shut, and curled in to a ball. I could see their faces as they were carried off. Their eyes had searched for mine, locking on to them, and drilling in to me. I must have looked as if I did not care about them, for their faces had fallen, yet they continued to fight. My body shook with racking sobs as I remembered Boromir. So strong. So proud. He had loved the Hobbits dearly, and fought to the death for them. He was not weak like me. Why was I like this? Why couldn't I be the Queen I was supposed to be? Every time I was needed, I let people down. I had let Gandalf down, and now Boromir. I sent up a silent prayer, hoping that he was with his ancestors, walking the Great Halls, peaceful at last.
I uncurled from my ball, and sat up. I looked up at the window, gazing at the single star I could see. My necklace glowed in response. I removed it, and held it in my hand, staring in to its depths. Legolas' face appeared in my mind. I clenched my hand around my necklace, trying to hold on to the image of him.
We had been alone for a few precious hours to re-cement our oath. I had loved him through everything, and had pushed him away because I had refused to let myself see things from his perspective. I trusted him with my life. I knew what he wanted to say before he even said it. I could interpret his meaning with a single look from him. We were perfectly synchronised with each other in our movements. Our souls had combined all those long years ago, fusing together with the strength of our love. I remembered the feeling of his lips brushing mine, his hands running down my arms, leaving a trail of fire in his wake. I could smell his unique scent – he smelt of rain and earth. He was everything to me. I would gladly give my life, if it meant he remained unharmed. I would never be alone, for I always felt the presence of Legolas beside me, wherever I went, watching over me; I had just never acknowledged it until now.
My necklace grew hot, and I opened my hand, curious. Blue light spilled out of it. It grew hotter and hotter, burning my hand, but I could not stop staring at it. Without warning, light exploded out of it, knocking me backwards. My necklace lay on the ground. I crawled over to it, picking it up. I gasped in surprise. Instead of a clear crystal, lined with silver, it was now a deep blue. Dusty pink veins slashed through the silver, making it glow softly. I lay down, pressing the necklace to my lips. Whatever happened, I would find a way back to Legolas. I would not lose him.
The two Elven children giggled as they ran through the stream, delighting in the feeling of the cold water flowing through their toes. They reached a rock in the middle, big enough for both of them. They clambered up, dangling their legs. They were silent for a moment.
"Why do you have to leave?"
The little girl pouted, looking at the boy with her large, ice-blue eyes.
"My father wishes me home."
The boy answered her, smiling a little at the girl's pout. She huffed and crossed her arms.
"I do not want you to go, so you shall not go!"
She declared the words, looking defiantly at the boy. He laughed and shook his head. The girl grinned at him. They both looked up as they heard their names being called. They slid off the rock and ran through the stream, up a slope and stood in front of a stern, male Elf.
"Your father has arrived."
He addressed the young boy, gazing down at him. The two children glanced at each other.
"Can he not stay a few more days? Please?
The girl pleaded with her elder, clasping her hands together.
"He has to come home."
Another male Elf appeared, standing in front of the children. The boy immediately straightened, shifting away from the girl slightly.
"Come, Legolas. We must go. I thank you for your hospitality, Elrond, and for taking him in at such short notice."
The other Elf bowed and took the boy's hand, leading him away. Elrond looked down at the little girl, who looked forlornly after the other two.
"You will see him again, my little one. Do not despair."
He spoke gently to the small girl and she looked up, hope lighting up her face. He smiled, and took her hand.
I opened my eyes. I was still in the same, tiny room. I lay looking at the ceiling, thinking of my dream. I had forgotten that Legolas often visited Imladris as a child. Even then, we were close to the point that our goodbyes involved tears and sometimes tantrums.
Footsteps sounded outside the door on the opposite wall. I had tried it earlier, but it remained resolutely shut, even when I had tried kicking it down. The lock clunked open, and I drew in to a corner. An Uruk-Hai stood in the doorway.
It grunted the words. When I didn't move, it strode forward, grabbed my arm and yanked me to my feet. Keeping a grip on my arm, we strode out of the room. I was led down a corridor. A few doors led off in different directions but we kept straight. Finally, we entered a circular room, with another, smaller one attached to it. The Uruk-Hai shoved me forwards, making me stumble in to a little table in the centre of the room. He walked out, locking the door behind him. I rubbed my arm where it had gripped me.
I scanned the room. A high-backed chair was the only furniture in the room, apart from the table. A cloth covered something round on the table. In the smaller room, I could see another chair, and long table, piled with books, and parchment. I walked in to the smaller room, examining the table. I lifted up a scrap of parchment. The writing scrawled across the parchment was in the language of Mordor. I quickly glanced at the books. Each was filled with dark magic. I whipped round and ran back to the small table. Lifting a corner of the cloth, I eased it up, revealing a dark blue sphere. A milky cloud shifted and turned in its centre. I let the cloth fall, going numb.
I whispered the name, voice shaking.
A deep voice sounded behind me. I didn't turn, but managed to keep my voice steady as I answered.
"You are a traitor to your people, Saruman the White."
A short laugh echoed round the room and I forced myself to remain still, to not tremble.
"And you are not?"
His voice was silky and he walked round until he was on the other side of the table. I stared at him, forcing myself to meet his eyes. He wore white robes, and his hair was free. His mouth was set in a hard line, giving him a cruel look. His dark eyes burned in to mine.
"Where are Merry and Pippin?"
I was proud that my voice stayed level, and I steeled myself; this would not be a pleasant encounter.
"You mean the Halflings? My Uruk-Hai failed to bring them here, so I can only assume they have escaped."
He dropped his gaze and walked over to the chair, seating himself in it.
"Or the Uruk-Hai got hungry."
His eyes glinted with malice. I balled my hands in to fists, reining in my anger.
"Come, come, Seraphina. I had thought you would be far more spirited. You are making it too easy."
One eyebrow lifted in a challenge.
"I do not wish to waste my breath on such a pathetic excuse of a wizard!"
I snapped at him, pleased to see his jaw tighten.
"I am curious: how did you know you were in Isengard?"
My eyes flickered round the room, before returning to him. I stayed silent for a moment, turning over the words in my head.
"I could have been in one of two places: Barad-dûror Isengard. Since I have intimate knowledge of the inside of Barad-dûr, I surmised that I was in Isengard."
I kept my tone neutral, not wishing Saruman to see how badly I was shaking.
"Ah, yes. I had quite forgotten your….indiscretion."
Saruman drawled the last word, dragging it out. My eyes narrowed and I reached for my dagger.
"I wouldn't bother. Your weapons have been taken off you."
I dropped my hand. Panic started to rise. My blades and dagger were like a part of me; I felt naked without them.
"Oh, don't worry. They are being kept in good condition. They are far too precious to be destroyed."
He leant forwards suddenly. The air grew cold, and my chest tightened.
"Where. Is. The. Ring-bearer?"
He said each word slowly, and clearly. I said nothing, staring back at him, my gaze cold. Sighing, he casually flicked a hand out. I flew backwards, slamming in to a wall. I slid to the ground, dazed. Saruman rose from his chair, walking in to the smaller room. I breathed deeply, trying to ease my dizziness. I got to my feet, one hand braced on the wall. Saruman re-entered, carrying a staff. He pointed it at me, and I was lifted up, dangling helplessly in the air.
"Do not make it hard for yourself, Seraphina. Tell me where the Ring-bearer is."
Again, I said nothing. He twisted the staff, and pain erupted in my head. It felt like a vice was slowly tightening, crushing my skull. I screamed out, voice ringing off the walls. Saruman straightened his staff, and I dropped to the floor. I rested my head on the cool, stone floor, the pain slowly fading. I saw his feet approach me. A hand caught my hair and dragged my head up.
"My Master may want you in one piece, but that does not mean you have to be unmarked."
Saruman hissed the words, his mouth turned up in a cruel smile. He released my hair, and my head smacked on to the floor. Groaning, I pushed myself up, and then stood. I faced Saruman, who stood by the door leading out of the room.
"I will ask you one last time: where is the Ring-bearer?"
I swallowed hard, tasting the metallic tang of blood in my mouth. I took a deep breath and drew on my remaining strength. I did not know where Frodo was, but I hoped my ignorance would keep him safe.
"I hope the Valar sees your betrayal, and your soul wanders this World, never resting, never finding peace!"
I spat the words at him, glaring at him. His face flushed, and I braced myself. Instead, he banged on the door. It flew open as two Orcs charged through. Before I had a chance to run, they grabbed me, and started dragging me from the room. Saruman led the way. I was dragged through a labyrinth of corridors, slowly descending. Light faded away, until the way was lit only by torches, which cast oily shadows against the walls.
We stopped, and I started to struggle, but the Orcs twisted my arms back, making me gasp in pain. We had entered a huge, underground room. All around us, Orcs milled around, carrying out tasks. To the right of me, I heard the clang of a hammer on metal. Turning my head, I saw Orcs forging swords, greaves, chest plates, helmets. The air was still, and heavy. Sweat had already soaked my back, and it dripped down my neck. I was hauled up, until I stood on my feet. My arms still twisted back, I was pulled backwards, stumbling a little as I tried to find my footing.
My back hit a solid wall. More hands pushed me backwards, and I was forced down in to a contraption. Leather binds strapped down my legs and arms. I was laid out on my back, arms and legs splayed. A cloth was tied over my eyes, plunging me in to darkness.
"I do not wish to do this. However, it must be done. I need answers, and since you will not tell me willingly, it must be extracted from you."
I shivered involuntarily.
"Are you cold, my dear?"
His voice was silky, and smooth.
"Maybe this will warm you up?"
I heard a sizzling sound a split second before pain like nothing I had felt before coursed through my body. My stomach blazed with heat, and the smell of burning flesh and fabric filled my nostrils. I bit my lip, determined not to give Saruman the satisfaction of hearing me scream for mercy. I felt heat on my chest, and knew they had pressed the white hot object on my chest. The smell made me gag, and I turned my head to the side, desperately seeking fresher air. The heat continued on my stomach and chest. The pain never stopped, and I felt something splatter against my arms.
"My Master was not wrong; you are difficult to break."
Saruman spoke, his voice sounding faintly surprised.
"Turn her over."
The heat dissipated suddenly, and stopped, but the pain merely dulled. My body trembled. I felt my arms and legs being unstrapped, and I was flipped over. Metal dug in to my chest and stomach, sending fresh waves of pain through my body. I bit down on lip harder, struggling with the urge to scream. I heard the sound of ripping fabric, and my back felt cold.
"Use the whip. Let us see how she bears it."
I heard the crack of something flying through the air before it landed on my back. Again, and again, the whip struck my back. Blood dripped down my sides, as my skin split open, but still the strokes did not cease. The strokes cut deeper, and deeper. Something solid hit the ground, with a splat.
His voice sounded faint, as if from a great distance. A fog had surrounded my mind. I was no longer Seraphina. I was just an empty shell, capable of only feeling pain. I was dimly aware of being turned over and the blindfold being taken off. My head lolled to the side. My eyes focused in on a lump on the floor. It looked squashy, and a dark stain spread over the floor from underneath it. Revulsion surged through me as I realised it was a bit of my flesh. It had obviously been torn off by the whip. I closed my eyes, fighting the bile rising in my throat. A light slap caused me to open my eyes. Saruman's face loomed over me. My vision was blurred, and it darkened around the edges.
"Leave her down here. Maybe some time alone will help her memory."
I heard Saruman leave. Hours passed, and the Orcs trickled out, until I was left alone in the huge room. Only then, was I truly alone, did I allow the tears to fall, and the screams to leave my body.
I did not know how long I was kept in the room. It could have been hours, days, weeks, years, for all I knew. I was strapped to the contraption day and night. The minimum amount of food and water to keep me alive were fed to me. Each day, the torture would start with a light beating. Slaps, punches, kicks. Then, maybe a whipping. Both my front and back were bloody and raw, my clothes ripped to shreds. I did not want to look at my body; I did not wish to see the wounds that were being inflicted on me. Sometimes, I would be burnt with a hot iron, and then whipped. There seemed to be a contest between the Orcs of how much blood they could draw, without actually tearing off any flesh.
The physical torture I could handle. I would sink in to myself, through all my layers: Queen, Seraphina, Elf, until I was just a shell; a vessel that housed my soul.
The mental torture frightened me beyond reason. Saruman would trick my mind in to believing all sorts of things. He would reach in to my mind, sifting through memories, opening mental doors and smashing through my barricades. He would insert images in to my head that my mind refused to let go of. They played in a loop, almost driving me insane. The worst was when Saruman picked up on my love for Legolas. He had used that against me, making me believe that Legolas had been killed after I had been taken away, his body left for the carrion eaters. Other times, he would insert an image of Legolas with another woman, with Legolas throwing away his necklace. My mind believed everything, almost breaking my heart. Only when Saruman had tired of playing his mind games would I remember that it was all false.
Saruman would ask me over and over where Frodo was. I would stay silent, pressing my lips together. I did not let on that I had no idea where Frodo was; I hoped that my silence was keeping him safe.
I longed to sink in to the blackness that hovered over me. I wanted to feel nothing, to slip away in to blissful non-existence. I had to force myself to feel everything: the pain, the exhaustion. If I stayed alive, I could find some way of reuniting with Legolas.
"Unstrap her, and bring her to my quarters."
Saruman's voice filtered in to my consciousness. Arms lifted me off the contraption. My muscles screamed in protest. They were stiff, and unyielding, after spending all that time strapped down. I was carried out of the huge room, and back in to the circular room, where I was dropped unceremoniously in front of the small table.I was going to die. I felt it in my bones. Why did he have to bring me up here to do it? Why not just leave me underneath the tower, to wither away? My eyes burned with tears. I would not see Legolas again. I would never again feel his soft touch, hear his musical voice as he confided in me, see his beautiful eyes as they stared in to mine with an intensity that left me breathless. I brought a trembling hand up to my necklace, letting a finger trail down its length. I clutched it tighter, and bowed my head, conjuring up an image of Legolas. Finding peace in his face, I began whispering a poem Elrond had read to me once.
"Sí na veth bâden im derelVi dúath dofn tummen.Atham meraid velig a tyndAthan eryd bain beraidh
Or 'waith bain nura AnorA panlû elin cuinarÚ-pedithon 'i-aur gwann'Egor nai îl 'namarië'."
Footsteps announced the arrival of Saruman. The poem had started to soothe me, and I felt strangely calm about my impending death. Wearily, I lifted my head.
His voice was hard. Slowly, I pushed myself up, using the table as support. I drew in a ragged breath, hands gripping the table. Clothes were thrown at me. Instinctively, my hands caught them. I held leggings, and tunic, made out of coarse, grey material.
"Put them on."
Saruman turned his back to me, allowing me one blessed moment of privacy. Shakily, I pulled the tunic over what was left of my old one, and stepped in to the leggings. The material rubbed against my skin, causing my back and front to flare with pain. I swallowed. Looking at the damage that had been done to me would only make me sick. Saruman looked back, and, seeing that I had finished dressing, handed me a pair of boots. I put them on, feeling his eyes on me. I laced them up tightly, not wanting to meet his eyes. I tied them, straightening up. I stared at the table in front of me, trembling slightly. Saruman's hand reached out and drew the cloth away. A ball sat in the middle of the table. It was the same one I had seen before. Saruman's hand hovered over it, and the mist within the ball began to shift. I stared at it, captivated. The mist started forming a shape, and then, suddenly, it lit up from the inside with a red glow. The Great Eye of Sauron appeared in its depths.
"I have done what you wished, Master. It seems as if she does not know where the Ring-bearer is."
Saruman spoke, his voice deep. Pure terror engulfed me. I tried to tear my eyes away, but I could not. I was rooted to the spot.
"Let me speak with her."
Sauron's voice filled the room. Saruman strode around the table, grabbing my hand and holding it over the ball. My eyes closed against my will. My mind reached out towards a red glow, combing with it.
His voice made my mind shrink. I tried to pull away, but his hold was too strong.
"Why do you fight? I see what you desire. There is a darkness in you still; it simmers beneath the surface, waiting to be released."
I shook my head, trying to dislodge his voice from my mind.
"I control the darkness within me, not the other way around. You were defeated once, Sauron, and you will be again."
I spoke as if he was in the room, using my mouth rather than my mind, but I knew that he could hear me. Cold laughter filled my head.
"You were always strong-willed. What makes you so sure that you will not betray your people again? After all, you did it once. It is easy to repeat past mistakes."
My whole body froze at his words, my heart hammering against my ribs. I would rather die than to go back to him.
"I see you for what you truly are. I will not make the same mistake again."
He was silent for a minute. Again, I tried to pull my mind away, but he held me fast.
"Release my mind. I will kill Saruman if you do not. I may be weakened but do not underestimate me!"
Again, his cruel laughter sounded. It wrapped around me, the coldness of the sound chilling me to the bone.
"Kill him if you will; he is nothing more than a tool to me. I wish to speak to you a little longer. You cannot fool me, Seraphina. There is a yearning within you, a longing, to join my dark forces. You would command armies. Imagine the power, the glory."
I bit my lip hard, holding back the scream I wanted to release. My head was reeling, my body burning up in pain.
"Your words do not tempt me. I am not the same naïve Elfling I once was. I have grown, in strength and wisdom. I have found a place amongst my kin and I will not allow you to tear me away from those I hold dear. You will fall, Sauron."
There was a pregnant pause and for a single moment, I thought he would release me. His next words were harsh, lashing against me with the dark power he possessed. I cringed sharply, tears burning my throat as my mind screamed for relief.
"Your kin? Your kin were in the ranks that marched against us three thousand years ago, and you decimated them without a single thought. You sought me out, and joined me willingly. I remember the day you walked in to Mordor. Flames danced in your eyes, shadows caressed your skin. I saw your eyes as you talked with me. They glowed, oh, how they glowed. You revelled in the darkness. You were born to serve under me."
My mind finally tore itself from Sauron, my eyes snapping open. Saruman released my hand, and I stumbled backwards, knocking in to him. Panting, I looked down at my hands. One hand was simply covered in grime, with the nails broken. The one Saruman had been holding was a different matter. Underneath the grime, red streaks trailed my fingers, ending at my wrist. I flipped my hand over, and bit back a yelp. The mark of Sauron, a great Red Eye, had been burned in to my palm.
"It seems as if there is more to you than meets the eye. You are not as innocent as you make yourself out to be."
Saruman stared down at the mark, studying it. I yanked my hand away and clenched it in to a fist, hiding the hideous marking.
"I have never pretended to be innocent. I have only hidden what I do not want others to see."
My voice was quiet. I had made myself forget what I had done, but I could not turn away from it now. I drew in a deep breath, and raised my head. Saruman was drawing the cloth back over the ball. The door opened behind me, and I heard the heavy footsteps of Uruk-Hai.
The steps stopped, and Saruman's head looked up in surprise.
"Sauron is right. The darkness in me cannot be contained any longer."
My words faltered, and I trailed off. My heart beat fast in my chest, and I was sure Saruman could hear it.
"If you could take me to Mordor, I will join with Sauron once again."
"Sí na veth bâden im derelVi dúath dofn tummen.Atham meraid velig a tyndAthan eryd bain beraidh
Or 'waith bain nura AnorA panlû elin cuinarÚ-pedithon 'i-aur gwann'Egor nai îl 'namarië'."
Here at my path's end I am lingeringIn deep darkness buried.Beyond towers strong and highBeyond all mountains steep.
Above all shadows rides the SunAnd stars always dwell.I will not say 'The day is done'Or to the stars 'farewell'.
The poem comes from this source:
www. istad tolkien / poetry. html (miss the spaces out)
The verses are part of a longer poem, but I thought they were the most relevant!