The Choice

Chapter 21

Time in the dungeon was impassable for Evelyn; she had no way to tell the passing of the hours. There were no sounds or light to guide her, only the steady drip of water. The silent dark that entrapped her chilled her to the bone. She sat in the farthest corner, her head resting on her knees that she drew up to her chest and her body heaved with now dry tears, she could no longer shed.

Then distant voices broke the endless silence and Evelyn's head shot up. She strained her ears desperately to hear what she may. However, it was no use, she needed elven hearing, all she could make out were muffled cries and nothing else. She did not think she could miss the presence of others so, even men, but now after finding herself utterly alone, she would welcome the presence of just about anyone, even if they did not speak, just to know she was not alone.

The voices grew into frantic footfalls. Whatever it was going on, it had people nervous, and it made the nervous gnawing in the pit of her stomach intensify. Something was not right. Evelyn was so absorbed in straining to make out even one word; she never heard the elf approach. And when he spoke her name in a hushed whispered, she very nearly cried out at the top of her lungs. Her hand flew to her chest and she sprung to her feet. Thankfully, she quickly recognized the long golden hair of the Prince.

"My Lord, what are you doing down here?" she stammered, walking gingerly to the iron bars of her cell. Her body had become stiff in her hours of sitting.

"To bring you this." Legolas informed her, brandishing her sword from a sheath he carried at his side. "A large host marches on the mountain from Isengard. There may come a time when you will need its service."

Slowly she gripped the pommel of the sword, feeling the strange tingle up her arm at holding it once more. Evelyn watched almost mesmerized as the icy gleam coated its surface.

"Will I have to fight?" she asked tearing her gaze from the sword to his own conflicted gaze. Evelyn wondered what he was thinking behind those cold blue depths. Quick flickers of emotion flashed through the orbs, but none that she could discern, they were gone as soon as they appeared.

"The king will not attempt to force you, no, but the company cannot be her to protect you. Should things go wrong, you may have need." His tone was stern but not harsh as he replied. "You must be brave now." And with that, he turned and left her alone in the darkness again. She meant to tell him thank you, but she found she could not. Her breath stuck in her throat. She could possibly face the threat of battle once again and she was not sure she could.

Evelyn sat back in her lonely corner, the frantic fall of feet above her now making sense. As the hours passed, they grew louder and louder. Now she could make out words as the people moved a level above her head.

"Women and children into the caves!" a man's strong voice echoed through the cavern. "By order of the king, all boys who can wield a sword to the armory!"

Now the frantic wails of mother's filled her ears, as they helplessly clung to their sons. Sisters cried for their brothers as they were taken away. Babies screamed with their crying parents, without knowing why. It was chaos above her. Evelyn did not have children, she was never sure in her other life if she wanted them, but the sounds above broke her heart. Those young sons leaving their mother's to play a man should never have to face what was coming for them. They should be snuggled up in their beds, safe in their homes. She thought of her own childhood briefly. She thought of her carefree nature, her blissful ignorance, something the children above her would never know. Fate, she had learned, was cruel.

She heard next Éowyn's soothing voice, trying to calm the mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. Though she knew her words fell to deaf ears, she did everything she could. Evelyn knew it was keeping her busy, keeping her mind off her own loved ones out on the walls defending their keep.

All of a sudden, the ground shook beneath her feet, the walls began to shudder, and it seemed as if thunder was rolling in the distance. "They are here!" a woman's voice screamed, and then all was quiet, until a mighty roar echoed down the caves. "It has started!"

The woman above ceased making noise then, instead of their sobs, sounds of battle filtered down into Evelyn's cell. She could hear the monster's howls and the mean scream as they fell, she tried to cover her ears but the sounds of death still reached her. And for the first time since her arrival, she found herself praying to the Valar to save them. Though she was not even sure they could hear her prayers, and even if they could, would they intervene? She was not so sure, these Gods were new to her, but she knew she must try.

Before she could finish her prayer, it was if the whole world went silent, and began shaking. All around her walls began to crumble; dust flew from every corner, blinding her. It burned to breathe in the air. Then she smelled it…sulfur, and she knew. It was a bomb. The sound, when it reached her, deafened her. She could hear nothing, and then the force that hit her was not like anything she had felt before. It was as if all the air was drawn from the room and her lungs, and she was slammed into the far wall, sending a shooting pain through her head and body. Evelyn crumpled to the floor. For a moment, she passed out.

When she came back to her senses, everything was shrouded in dust, but her hearing was slowly returning, and the screams of the women were louder than ever. "They are braking in!" they screamed. It was only then that Evelyn realized they were all around her. As the smoke cleared she saw the extent of the damage, the floor has collapsed at one point, creating a path from the caves the women were put and the dungeon cells.

She pushed herself slowly to her feet, looking for the only face she would know, Éowyn's. She was not sure if hers would be a friendly face, but she was all she had. If the frightened people took notice of her they hid it well, it was almost as if she were invisible to them in their panic. Then a soldier appeared before them on the upper level. "You must make for the pass through the mountain. The wall is breached!" he shouted above the chaos.

Then the woman began calling for their lady, and Evelyn watched as Éowyn appeared over the fallen floor. They all seemed to be asking the same question, 'what were they to do?'

"We make for the pass, quickly now." She spoke, addressing them all, and then her eyes landed on Evelyn, and she elemental was surprised to see relief spark through them. The niece of the king began a quick decent down the ruble. Evelyn soon found herself face to face with the other woman, whose own face was streaked with dust and grim.

"I am glad to see you alive, my friend." Éowyn told her, giving her a strong embrace that Evelyn was reluctant to return, but did so lightly. "Is it true the story my uncle spoke of you?" she asked.

Evelyn stiffened, scared of what would come next. The woman before was clearly glad to see her alive, what would she think knowing the truth? Though Evelyn knew she could not lie, it had only caused her grief so far. "yes." She replied simply, looking to her dusty feet.

Éowyn's next words surprised her indeed. "Then pick up your sword and redeem your actions. Will you help me defend my people?"

Looking into her eyes, she saw no judgment there, she saw only understanding, and strength of will she had rarely seen in another person. She had killed one of her own people in cold blood, albeit by accident and her she was asking her help to defend her people. The niece of King Théoden was smart. She knew she stood no chance alone, she needed help, and she needed the power Evelyn could give her. However, unlike her uncle, she would not force her, Evelyn saw it in her face, she would let her choose her own fate.

Evelyn's eyes never left her green ones. Could she do this? Could she purposely throw herself into a battle she knew she was not ready for? Could she face her own death? She was not sure she could, but she also knew she could not flee with the other women, she knew for a fact she could not live with herself and the guilt if she ran again. If she went with Éowyn, at least she would be trying, even If she failed.

"I will."

Snatching her sword from the pile of crushed iron gates, she ran after Eowyn, climbing ungracefully to the upper level. The destruction here was face worse. Women and children lay dead crushed under stone pillars. Families held their dead loved ones and cried. A few soldiers remained, forcing the survivors to their feet. The site hurt her to the core to see, but she knew they did only what they had to do or they too would face the fate of their dead loved ones.

An ear-splitting shriek filled the air, and the metallic scent of blood rippled through the still air. The thunder of the enemies feet were upon them. They had made it to the cave.

"My Lady you should not be here!" a soldier cried upon seeing her, sword in hand.

"I can fight. I will protect my people!" she cried, silencing the man, who then gave a wary look towards Evelyn, which Éowyn caught, "She fights with us. We fight to the last one!" and as if on cue they appeared through the still clinging dust.

They were hideous, but this time Evelyn was more prepared for their grotesque face and horrid smell, she made herself stand her ground. Their weapons dripped with the blood of Rohan's people and looking past them, she saw the splayed bodies of children and her heart wrenched. Could fate be so cruel? How could the Valar let the innocent die and the evil to live? Hatred for the uruks built inside her like a disease, and sorrow filled her heart.

The wind began whipping around her, causing those around her to take cautious steps sideways, only Éowyn stood perfectly still beside her. The creatures before her seemed unsure at first what to make of the scene, but soon when nothing else happened, they sneered, barring their fangs and charged.

To Evelyn, things at first seemed to happen in slow motion, she saw the uruks charged, and the soldiers charge from beside her. She watched mesmerized as their blades clashed, their battle cries reverberating around them. Then the first soldier was down and the spell was broken. She found herself in the midst of battle. To her right another was about to be slain, was going to take an axe through his back unless someone came to his aide. However, there was no one; it was just her, to her dismay.

She could not let him die, she knew that, but what could she do? She realized at that moment, she had no clue how to draw her power. Feel it inside you, the voice of the Valar spoke to her. Closing her eyes, she looked for it, hungered for it, but nothing came. It is you and you are it, embrace it. It spoke again, more urgently. Opening her arms wide, she repeated the words, "It is I and I am it."

A force like no other filled her in that moment, she felt alive, and she felt empowered. Evelyn, for the first time since coming to Middle Earth, knew what she had to do in this moment. And with barely a thought, she flung out her right arm, watching as the stream of ice hit the uruk mid chest, stopping his forward movement instantly. After that, the monsters began focusing their attention on her, finding her the biggest threat. The distraction, however, was just what was needed, for it allowed the remaining woman and children the escape they needed.

Unconsciously Evelyn was pushed farther and farther back, until she found herself backed into a corner, with four uruks in front of her. Her breath hitched, how had she let that happen? She should have paid more attention to the enemy and less on the fleeing people. Nevertheless, she needed to see them safe and unhurt.

Then two of the uruks fell, and she saw Éowyn's blond head appear over their dead bodies, and it left her to only deal with the last two, which she did so effectively. It chilled her somewhat that their deaths did not bother her. Should not it bother her even just a little to kill a living thing? Then again, were these creatures living? They were nothing but pure evil, there was no goodness in them, they were not human.

Her thoughts were cut short when she saw the next group of uruks appear in the doorway and to her dismay; only she and Éowyn remained to defend the fleeing people. She looked to her friend, who looked back at her. With a solemn nod, they knew they would not survive this, but they would ensure the lives of hundreds of innocents. A peace filled her, knowing she had redeemed herself in her mind, the guilt remained but it was diminished, and she felt a freedom she had not in a long time.

She thought of the company, saw their faces in her mind. She saw Legolas's face as he came to her in the dungeon and a tear slid down her face. She would miss them, she hoped they would miss her too when this was over. And with a cry to match Éowyn's she rushed forward.

They were a good pair, her and Eowyn, they fought back to back, until they finally found themselves surrounded and Eowyn without her sword, which was knocked far out of her hand. She clutched at her wrist that was already bruising from the impact. Fear began prickling up her spine, facing her death. A large black hand struck out, catching them both hard on the cheek. They landed in a heap on the rumble of stone. Pain was felt everywhere in her body, looking around Evelyn saw Éowyn unconscious beside her. She was so tired now, she just wanted to give up, but the faces of the children refilled her mind and she kept her resolve. She would make her last stand.

Forcing herself up, she felt her legs wobble, she wanted to lie back down, but she stayed up. Closing her eyes, she took in a deep breath. The uruks advanced slowly, smiling in their victory. Reaching for the power, she pulled at it to come forth. The stirrings filled her whole being, and she lit up like the night sky itself. Blinded the uruks halted, having to cover their eyes, and then she released it. The power was expelled, leaving her empty and depleted. She smiled at the sight of the fallen creatures at her feet as she faded into darkness, falling beside her friend. Once again, the darkness took her.

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