"Tell me more about your home Miss Evelyn." Pippin chirped as he dropped loudly on the ground beside her, his eyes innocently inquiring into her own. She knew she could not deny him.
Smiling down at the young hobbit she spoke, "I can do better than that, I can show you." She reached for her leather pack, where her pictures lay nestled at the bottom wrapped in cloth. The thought crossed her mind more than once not to reveal them, however, what harm could come of the pictures? Other than perhaps painful memories for herself, but those were her plague every moment of everyday.
Before she could change her mind, Evelyn quickly handed the hobbit the photographs.
"How did you make these? It looks so real." He said in awe, quickly gaining Merry's attention and drawing him closer to take a look. From the corner of her eye she saw the elf prince inch closer in a tree diagonally from them, she ignored him. She wished to interact with him as little as possible.
"It is much like a painting, only much more intricate. I do not know the process." She lied, but they would not understand what a camera was. "A close friend practiced the trade."
Looking over Pippin's shoulder she looked at the lush green rolling hills dotted with tress and stones fences that she once looked at every morning. She could see the horses grazing peacefully in the yard. A pang shot through her heart. She missed her horses, she missed Zenith. Above all, she missed her old life.
"That is a very strange house you had Miss Evelyn," Merry informed her, squinting his eye at the picture, and looking to see the picture of which he spoke she could not restrain a giggle.
"Because that is not my house. That is my barn." Her giggle only intensified at the shocked look the two exchanged with each other.
"You could fit like 15 hobbit holes in there, is it multiple levels?"
"Yes, it is, though I rarely used the upper levels unless I had guests." She replied, a smile still on her face.
"How did you get all this? It would take lifetimes to get this in the shire, though we would never be able to use it all." pippin stated, getting a sharp jab from his cousin.
Legolas found himself leaning closer, wanting to hear her answer. He could see the images clearly from his perch. It was as the young hobbit stated, very large, larger even than the stables of Mirkwood. It was mind boggling that one person, let alone a young woman could have all this to herself.
"It was ah," she paused, not sure of the appropriate word to use, "Inherited." She finished, looking back over the water rushing by them. Her parents had a small fortune to their name and had the farm many years before her birth. Upon their untimely death all of it was left to her.
"This is not you."
"Pardon?" Evelyn looked back to the pictures the hobbit had in his hands.
Legolas watched as her breath hitched and breath quickened. He saw nothing startling about the picture. It was of a dark haired woman, wearing a strange hat and bright red jacket and of a horse, with some strange red ribbon and garland around its neck. Clearly though, the picture bothered her, he wondered why.
She stared at the picture of her herself and her horse from years back at the summer Olympics in Beijing, China. Oh what she would give to go back to that moment, she would give just about anything. Tears began to brim in her eyes, wanting to break over their dam, but she would not let them. Now she had to come up with an answer for the hobbit, for the truth of the image would have to be lost to all but her, now was not the time to lose control.
"No." She told him, "That is a good friend of mine."
The elf knew instantly she was lying, he could see it in the way she looked quickly to the ground away from the image and the hobbit. It brought her pain, he could feel the hurt she was trying to push down and rid herself of. Who was the person in the picture? A relative passed on to where ever man's souls go?
Merry seemed to catch on to her discomfort and shook his head discreetly at Pippin as he opened his mouth to ask more questions.
Deciding to change the topic Merry ended up asking her how she spent most of her days, thinking she must get lonely living there all alone, though he left that thought to himself. Evelyn was glad of the subject change as she placed the photographs back in her pack. The hobbits were quite pleased to learn she enjoyed a good cup of tea at the end of a long day but were appalled at her lack of meals. The woman could not help but laugh at them and their many numerous meals; it was more than she could probably eat in a week. It felt good to laugh. And so she spent most of the day with them as they traveled.
They had been traveling on the river for days now, at first she had found it relaxing—the gentle rolling if the water, the sounds of it gliding over the rocks, the sound of the water birds overhead. Now, however, she was ready to travel on dry land, have something solid to put her feet on. Evelyn was more than thrilled when Aragorn called for them to pull onto the far bank as the falls came into view. She could hear the roar of the water, and see the mists rising from its base many feet below.
That night they would cross over and make their way closer to Mordor. The men feared the Eastern shore, said there were orcs that roamed that area, it sent a chill down her spine. They were not things she wanted to meet up with, let alone think about. Looking across the water, the far bank looked much like the one they now stood on. Its shore was rocky and littered with stray pieces of drift wood. Farther back pine trees littered the landscape. It did not look so menacing, in all actuality it felt safer than where they were now, but for what reason she knew not.
She was not sure what compelled her to walk away from camp, but soon enough she found herself alone in the woods, with only the sounds of the woodland creatures as company. To her surprise she found herself more relaxed than she had been since leaving Lorien. Though here she was alone, and she thought that maybe should bother her, yet it did not. With the men far away from her and without the constant chatter of the hobbits, which most of the time she found comforting—just not today—she felt she could truly just let go for a time, let her mind wander and not fear the path before her.
Her peace was broken by the sound of a snapping twig and she swung around were she stood. Behind her she saw Boromir collecting wood, he had yet to notice her presence and that was fine with her, of all the members his presence unsettled her the most. There were times he seemed happy and carefree, playing with the hobbits, and then other times it was if a shadow covered his heart and mind, she could see the turmoil in his eyes. Of course her presence did not long go unnoticed; soon the man of Gondor looked up and into her eyes, his eyes narrowed.
"You should be at the shore with the others." He told her, his voice gentle for the first time since she had met the man. It took her slightly off guard. Not knowing what to say she just nodded and turned, wanting to quickly be rid of him, but his voice stopped her.
"Why do you fear me? Why do you spurn my company?" His voice questioned, losing some if it's earlier gentler tone. It sounded as if it were two different men speaking with her. She pushed the thought away, she wanted to answer him, wanted to yell at him that it was hard to be near one who so clearly scorned her presence, but she could not, she could just stare wide-eyed.
When she turned to face him, another movement caught her eye—Frodo. The young hobbit was a few yards behind them, sneaking off quietly into the woods, though he stopped to look at them, worry in his eyes. He stared directly at Boromir and she knew he wished to also avoid the man. Looking back to the man she noticed a mad gleam in his eyes, the same look she saw when he spoke to her that day in the boats of her imminent death. It was the look he had when she knew he was fighting some internal battle, and she was in the middle. Involuntarily she stumbled backwards.
Before she knew it her back was to a tree, the bark digging uncomfortably into her skin and Boromir was dangerously close to her face. She felt the panic rising in her throat as she felt his breath hot upon her face. Her heart was close to beating out her chest and she felt she would hyperventilate at any moment.
"You never should have left the elves." He hissed through gritted teeth, "They have sent you to your death. What could someone as weak as you possible accomplish?"
Turning her face away she tried to flee, tried to get away but his arms pinned her body to the tree. Hot tears flooded her eyes, spilling down her cheeks. This was not happening again, Boromir may not like her, but he would not hurt her. Galadriel told her she would be safe, told her they would look after her. Had she been wrong? Was she to die now at the hands of one of her protectors?
"You are a burden. You will bring death to us all."
The panic was now trying to claim her mind, willing her to just give in, oh how it would make her life easier. But another voice, a stronger voice, seemed to whisper telling her she could not give in, she had to keep Frodo safe. Frodo? She thought to herself, why was he in danger from Boromir? Then she realized it was the ring. It had hold of Boromir and if he knew Frodo was near he would try and take it and then they would all be dead. But what could she do? Flashes of her death starting whizzing past her vision, blurring her sight. She wanted to scream for help, but who would come? Merry, pippin? They were the only ones who seemed to care for her fate, but they would be of no use against the mad man.
He continued to hiss curses at her, but she could not processes them, could not listen to the man. She knew she had to stall him, but how? What could she do? Try as hard as she might she could not push the panic down. She could not fight back when she felt his hands on her shoulders shake her as if she were a rag doll and then suddenly drop her to the ground.
Evelyn did not know how long she was on the ground before she heard a voice above her. Instantly she began backing up, trying to push herself to her feet when she felt yet another tree hit her back. She was trapped yet again. Looking up expecting to see Boromir yet again, her breath hitched as she looked into the stark blue eye of Legolas. He had a hand reached out to touch her and she flinched from his gesture causing him to withdraw his hand, his brow furrowed at her reaction.
"What happened?" A strong masculine voice asked from behind Legolas, one she knew belonged to Aragorn.
She had failed to keep Boromir from Frodo. He had to have found him by now, and it was all her fault. Had she caused the doom of them all? Had she caused the death of the hobbit, and once again she saw the image of the fallen hobbit flash before her eyes. Quickly she shut her eyes, dropping her head to face the ground, how could she face them in her shame of weakness?
It felt like ages before she found her voice, though as they did not need to repeat the question, it must have been quicker than she realized.
"Boromir...it has taken him." She breathed out in a ragged breath, and looking past the elf she starred into Aragorn's eyes. "Frodo." All it took was the ring bearers name and the ranger took off.
The next thing she knew she was back at the river bank and being told to stay put by the elf and then she was alone.
She did not want to be alone with her thoughts, she wanted more than anything to have once again the loud boisterous hobbits to distract her, but they too were gone looking for Frodo, doing what she could not to keep him safe.
Evelyn became lost into herself; she never heard the pounding of the Uruk's feet, the clanging of metal as they fought. All of this was lost to her as she was drowning in her sorrow. It was not until a soft voice repeating her name that made her eyes began to take focus. Swinging her head around she searched for the source of her name. Her breath caught in her throat. It was Frodo and Sam. He had survived, her heart swelled with joy at the sight of him and before she knew it the small hobbit was in her arms.
"I am so sorry Frodo." Her voice cracked as she apologized to him, her arms still crushing him in her hug. It was not until he began squirming that she finally released him. "I am so glad to see you safe."
He gave her a soft smile, letting her know he held no grudges for earlier and her heart felt eternally lighter until he uttered his next words.
"Sam and I must get to the eastern shore."
She wanted to ask what he meant, they all planned to go to the Eastern shore together, not just them. Of course the chance never came as the ground shook under their feet with the sound of thunder rolling behind them. Evelyn spun, forcing herself from her squatting position, placing herself between the hobbits and the creature that now stood before them. It was like an overgrown man with dark grey skin, mottled with scars and disfigurements. The smell of death and decay wafted from him and flooded her nose. Yellow, jagged, animal like teeth jutted from odd angles of his mouth and a white hand print covered his face, if it could even be called a face.
"Take the ring my child." A soft masculine voice whispered in her mind. She brought her hand involuntarily to her forehead. Where had it come from?
"Take it for yourself; you have but to extend your hand." It called to her. Closing her eyes tight she turned her back against her will and turned to face Frodo, who seemed to already know he was in trouble and was backing towards the shore.
"I can make all your fears go away." It coaxed, and she drew her sword from its sheath. "You will never have to fear man again, with me I can make you invincible. Men will gravel at your feet, fight to just look upon your fair face."
She raised the sword above her head, she could see their lips moving, pleading with her but she heard no words. If she could just do this one thing, just bring the sword down, she could live without fear, she could be free. Oh how she wanted to be free of her fear.
What was she doing? She looked at their faces full of fear, fear she was causing. She did not want this did she?
"It is a life without fear. What is one death?" The voice rang in her head. And it was right was it not? She could live with one death for her lifetime without fear could she not?
She swung the blade down with all her might, the image of the fallen hobbit flashing in her mind. She heard a voice screaming no, but she did not know if it was her own, the sweet masculine voice in her mind, the hobbits, or someone else. It was something she would never know. What she did know is she felt hot blood spurt across her face, spilling into her mouth, leaving a deathly metallic taste behind. Looking down the blade she watched the black blood drip thickly off its point and onto the crumpled uruk at her feet. She was not sure at what point she knew the ring was trying to control her, twist her to its evil plan, nor what point she knew what her decision was, but she did know she would not fail Frodo again, this time she would protect him.
"Run!" Evelyn heard herself scream, "Get to the boat, now!" She watch in horror as the other creatures began descending upon them, angry growls coming from deep in their throats.
There was no point in counting the creatures, there were many more than she would ever be able to defeat, she would die here, that much she was sure of. She did not want to die, not again, but she would rather die again fighting than die running. With a large gulp, she readied herself for the battle when a movement to her right caught her attention. A yell echoed through the clearing, the white tree of Gondor shinning in the bright sun as Boromir leapt from the ledge of a rock and into the mix of uruks. Only a moment ago she never wanted to see the man again, and now she was overjoyed, she about snorted at the irony until the reality of the situation hit her in the face as she looked onto the yellow eyes of the closest Uruk.
The creatures swung down with a heavy blow, which she tried to block. The shock sent spasms down her arms at the impact, and sent her stumbling backward. She felt her feet hit the river water, soaking into her boots. He swung again and she sidestepped to her left, narrowly avoiding the blow, but she did not miss the large arm he swung at her next. It struck her hard in the face, sending her sprawling to the ground, sword flying from her hand, landing in the shallows of the river.
Scrambling desperately, Evelyn tried to get to her feet, but her struggle was halted when the large black hand of the uruk encircled her neck, lifting her effortlessly off the ground. She tried to kick at the creature, tried to wiggle to no avail. His arm length was too long and she could not reach his body, not that she thought it would do much good, she doubted it would faze him.
Could Boromir save her, was he even still here? Looking desperately around, she finally caught sight of him, fighting his own battle at the moment, but he turned to her at that moment, as if he felt her looking to him, wishing for his help. She saw the torment in his eye, saw the need to help her, but he had no way to get to her. The sound of his words never reached her ears but she saw his mouth say the words 'Hang on.'
But how long could she? Already she felt her mind fogging, her vision blurred. Focus on Boromir, she told herself, thinking that it would give her hope if she saw him make his way closer to her. Then, as if in slow motion, she saw the weapon soaring through the air, spinning around and around before it found its mark. The axe like weapon embedded itself into the man's chest. She saw the force of the impact make him stumble back. His face held surprise, there was no sign of fear or pain, though she reckoned there would not be much time to feel at all as she watched him fall to his knees and then to the ground, sending up a cloud of dust.
She tried to scream, but all that came out was a gurgle, that brought a smirk to the uruk's face. Grief and sorrow wanted to consume her, but she could not focus on that, she had to save herself now. With her last bit of strength she grappled for the monster's arm, digging her nails in deep, feeling blood seep down her hands. It was to no avail, her vision was mostly black now, her thoughts coming in random succession. Her last thought was of not wanting to die, but it was as if it was screamed in her mind. The tingling sensation she felt the first night at the river back returned, and she vaguely comprehended the wail of the uruk holding her.
Cold water splashed over body, and rocks cut through her clothes as she hit the river bed. Gasping she felt her lungs fighting for air, her muscle and head aching from a lack of oxygen, her vision was still black and it felt as if pipes were attached to her ears and she was in a long dark tunnel. It felt good to just lay her she thought; maybe she should stay here and let what may come. But another voice was growing louder and louder, telling her to get up, telling her to find her weapon, telling her she must fight.
It seemed to take hours for her limbs to answer her command. But slowly, she managed to get to her knees, struggling to see into the distance. As her vision cleared, she saw a vast expanse of water before another line of trees reached up to the sky. Was that a boat? Why was there a boat, they were all supposed to be together, weren't they? Then the memories started piecing together. Frodo and Sam, she was trying to save them, make them have safe passage across and they had. She smiled.
There was a gruff noise behind her and she knew it was an Uruk. Was he the last? Had Boromir disposed of the rest before...her breath hitched as she recalled his fall, and then the anger built. He had died trying to save her. The uruk's had killed a good and honorable man for trying to help her. She would make them pay, she would make up for her weakness, and make up for the death that now lay upon her hands.
Gliding her hand through the water where she believed her sword to be, she sought for it, and hid a smile as she felt her fingers slide down its blade. Finding the hilt she strongly gripped its now familiar weight, tensing her muscles. As she heard his heavy steps close in upon her she took a deep breath and swung herself around into a lunge, thrusting the blade up through the water and into the creatures exposed throat, quickly pulling it out to let his life drain from his body. Once again she felt the hot black blood coat her face.
She stood over the body for only a second before the rage came over her and instead of the uruk, she saw the masked man from her past on the ground. It was not enough for him to die. She wanted him to suffer as she did. Over and over again she brought the sword down and into its body even after he was long dead, tears streaming down her face, leaving streaks in the black blood that coated it.
Strong arms enveloped her gorse in a vise grip, causing her sword to once again fall to the hard earth. Fear once again griped her heart. She had forgotten the others, she was so focused on the masked man, she forgot his friends, and now they had her. With everything she had she began fight, struggling to break free, but the arms only grew tighter. Her body was beginning to wear down, she felt the fight leaving her, even her tears now were running dry.
Still she tried to fight, now pleading, "Please don't hurt me, please."
"Evelyn," the voice called louder.
"I don't want to die."
Legolas practically yelled her name in her ear, trying to bring the woman back to reality as she still struggled against him, pleading to who she thought to be her enemy. They found her repeatedly stabbing a dead Uruk, a glaze in her eyes as if she was possessed by someone else. She had been oblivious to their approach.
"You are not going to die." Aragorn said soothingly, trying to calm her.
"Not again." She whispered. Legolas was not sure he heard her right, again? Clearly she was having some sort of delusion; no one died and came back to life, at least not mortals such as her. Still he tried whispering in her ear, calling her name. And finally he felt her relax, lifting her head up, finally taking in her surroundings, her breathing beginning to regulate itself.
Evelyn felt herself come to, watched as she was not longer in the alleyway but on the bank of the Anduin, Aragorn and Gimli standing in front of her at a good distance. The arms that were wrapped around her loosened, and she tried to stand, only the ground spun and her vision faded. She felt the arms catch her before she hit the ground.
Squinting her eyes tight, she willed herself not to faint. Get it together, she yelled to herself. She was not in the alley with her murders, she was on the Anduin, she was with Legolas and the others, the uruks were dead, she was alive and for now, safe. Ever so slowly, her breathing slowed and the fog lifted from her brain. Looking up she saw Aragorn looking at her, concern in his eyes but grief was there also.
"Frodo, where is Frodo?" He asked her, his voice was quiet but the worry and fear laced his every word.
"He made it to the eastern shore." She told him, her voice hoarse and scratchy, one she hardly recognized.
"We must hurry after them." Legolas' voice boomed above her, causing her to jump slightly from surprise, but if he noticed this he made no inclination.
"Frodo is now beyond our reach. We cannot leave Merry and Pippin to torment and death."
"Arhhhh!" Gimli's gruff voice echoed in the clearing, "Let's hunt some Orc!"