The Choice

Chapter 29

Her eyes fluttered open to nothing but darkness and a cold floor beneath her. 'Where am I?' her mind wondered as she struggled to get off the floor. Her body ached, not that that was anything new as of late, but her back especially and she instinctively reached back to touch it. Two things happened at once. The first being that she felt a sticky substance on her back and the second was that her elbow smacked into something very solid to her right. Evelyn reached out and felt a wall under both her hands and she felt the panic began to rise. 'Calm down,' she told herself, 'where there is a wall there is a door.' She just had to find it.

Moving to her right she felt an adjoining wall; she had managed to wedge herself into a corner somehow. Taking a deep breath, she continued down the new wall and very quickly hit another corner, no door to be found. The wall was smooth as glass. 'Strange,' she thought fighting down the building panic. It worked well until she hit two more corners. Her breath hitched. "No," she breathed and stretched out her arms. Sure enough, they each hit the smooth wall and she turned around, her hands always able to touch a part of the room. Evelyn reached up, and felt a crack as her finger hit the ceiling.

"NO, NO, NO, NO!" she screamed and began pounding her fists against her cage, for she knew now that is what it was. Whatever had taken her had put her in a cage, with clearly no way out from the inside. 'But then that would defeat the purpose,' she spat to herself sarcastically.

She beat and scratched at the walls in vain until she finally just had to collapse back on the ground in a heap, leaning against once of the corners, her heart still was pounding and her breathing coming in short gasps in between tears. That is when the though hit her—oxygen. There was no crack or crevice she found, nothing to let in oxygen. That meant, unless she was released, she would suffocate alone in the dark.

She would not see the lush golden forest of Lothlorien again, nor would she ever travel to the other Elven realms, which she so highly wanted to see. She would not see the sun again; feel its warming rays upon her pale skin. She was going to be stuck in darkness. She had never feared the dark until now.

With a renewed strength, she began again her battle against the metal cage, screaming at the top off her lungs. If she only had a limited supply of oxygen, she might as well go ahead and us it up fighting for something. When her voice gave out she finally gave up, wondering if anyone could even hear her and if they could would it even matter? There would be no help on the other side, only her enemies.

Lying down she wished for sleep, wished to pass without ever being away of what was happening. Surely, she had enough Carbon Dioxide built up to make her unconscious soon. Now that she was mostly back in her right mind, Evelyn noticed that she felt what she thought was a small warm breeze against her forehead. Confused, she pushed onto her forearms, running her fingers along the joint of the wall and floor. Her finger hit something strange; it was a tube of some sort. Following it, she found it connected to the cage, only a few inches long. She hovered her hand over it. There it was, the warm air. A jolt went through her heart. They were keeping her alive. Evelyn found that a more daunting thought than suffocating. If they were keeping her alive, for now, they wanted her for something, and she knew exactly what that something was—her powers. Curling into a ball, she did the only thing left for her to do. She cried.

"EVELYN!" He heard himself scream in vain, as he watched the horrific creature lift her into the air, its talons digging into her back. He could see the blood already dripping from the wounds. His heart clenched in agony. He kicked Arod on, urging him with all his might. The stallion, feeling his riders desperate need, ran as hard as he could, racing across the rocky plains towards the giant beast that struck fear into his own heart. Faster and faster the stallion ran, until he just could not anymore. His pace faltered, but still Legolas spurred him on, his need to get to Evelyn outweighing his common sense.

Arod finally came to halt; the wraith was little more than a speck on the horizon, his sides heaving in the effort to breath. Legolas slumped on his back, his eyes desperately following the beast. He slid of the horse's back, dropping to his knees in despair. He had failed her. She had trusted him, looked to him for safety—even if to his chagrin—and he had failed her, let her be taken by the enemy. He shuddered, thinking of the horror she was now facing and it was all because of him.

His eyes burned, though no tears came. He could not understand the emptiness he was feeling in his chest. He had not felt anything close to it, not since his mother sailed—which felt different from this—and not since. He stopped that train of thought, clenching his eyes closed, not wanting to think back on those memories. This was deeper than that.

A hand landed on his shoulder. It was Aragorn, he would know his friend's presence anywhere, but now it did not bring him comfort. Today it brought him more sadness, for he knew the man would grieve deeply. 'Would it feel like this to him as well?' He asked himself. However, something told him, it was different for Aragorn, but he did not know why.

"We failed her." Gimli said in a voice full of tears from Legolas' other side, though it sounded like it was miles away.

"She is in the hands of the Valar now." Gandalf said from behind them all. His statement finally broke Legolas' trance.

"The Valar? She is in the enemies hands! There is nothing we can do to help her." He spat vehemently, taking the others aback from the anger that laced his voice. The Rohirrim took actual steps away from the elf.

Gandalf only gave the elf a sad smile, seemingly completely nonpulsed by his outburst. "The Valar have not left her defenseless. They made her for a reason, one she must fulfill, and it will not be with us. They will watch over her."

This comment did little to ease his heart. What could she possible do alone, against so much evil? The Valar had sent their creation to her death. Hardening his face and pushing the emptiness he felt away, he abruptly stood up, knocking away Aragorn's hand.

"It is as I said, she should never have left Lothlorien, and she should have never come with us."

Grabbing Arod's reins, he led the horse away from the group, back towards Edoras. He walked alone for many moments before Aragorn was once again at his side. For a long moment, the two remained silent. Aragorn finally broke the deafening silence.

"The emptiness eases with time, easier to push away."

Legolas shot him a sharp look, cutting his eyes to glance at the man by his side. Aragorn was not looking at him; instead, he was looking ahead, a grim expression on his face. He was not sure where the ranger was going with this conversation. He was not sure he wanted to, he found what he believed the man was insinuating very uncomfortable. The only woman Aragorn had left was Arwen and she was gone to the Undying lands with her people. This was a completely different situation all together.

"I know what you think, my friend, but it is not so different."

Again, he shot him a glare. "It is very different." He replied, in a flat voice. Aragorn sighed and they lapsed again into silence, only broken by Gimli's occasional sniffle from behind.

A strange grating noise awoke her from her slumber, though she was still groggy with sleep. Before she could register what was occurring, a brilliant blinding light overshadowed her vision, which still had not become accustomed to the darkness—she saw nothing. Sharp pain filled her mind as her eyes tried relentlessly to adjust to the light, but they seemed to be having tremendous trouble doing so. Evelyn felt a rough hand grab her hair and yank her from her cage. She did not think her eyes would ever adjust to the light against after being in such darkness, but she was wrong. After what seemed to be an eternity, she could make out small details.

She realized she was lying in soft sand, she could feel the minute grains digging into her flesh, filling her nose as she tried to breath, and tasted their bland taste as they filled her mouth.

Ever so slowly, her vision began to adjust to the sunlight once again. She wished it had not. She tried to blink away the image before her but she could not. She saw the most hideous man she had ever seen, but something about him was familiar, but she just could not place it.

He was tall, at least six feet and very stock. He was as wide as he was tall, a force to be reckoned with for sure. His tanned skin was painted in varying shapes of gold and black that painted patterns as far as the eye could see. The only clothing her wore was an elaborate loincloth about his waist. The strange man had piercings that extended up the length of his ear, his eyebrows and lips. 'Apparently the tradition started early with some people' she thought ruefully about her past. She involuntarily shivered as he drew closer.

With an ease that seemed inhumanly possible, he snatched her up once again from her hair, making her writhe in discomfort, drawing her face close to his own.

"I see Sauron has sent me a mighty gift."

Not knowing what exactly came over her in that moment, Evelyn found herself spitting in his face, hitting him square on. She wished she had not. However, she could not take it back.

The strange wild man jerked her closer to his face and when he spoke spittle from his mouth landed on her face, making her wince.

"You will be my best prize yet. You will make our enemies run for their lives. But they will have nowhere to go."

His voice was like poison, she recoiled from it like the plague, but his grip held her firm in place. She could do nothing but wriggle under his grip.

"I would rather die." She heard herself say, but she did not remember uttering the words on her own accord. It was as if someone else was in control of her body, though she felt more like her former self in this moment than she had in a long time. Evelyn was not sure what exactly was transforming in her at the moment, but she was wishing she could just keep her mouth shut.

"Oh, do not you worry, before the end, you will, but not just yet. Not yet."

Suddenly she knew the face before her. It was the man from her dream, the man she saw laughing over the bodies of her fallen friends. With all her might, she tried to free herself from his grasp, wanting with everything she had to get away from him, but she found it was fruitless, he was way beyond her strength to overpower, and she could do nothing.

"See these men?"

She did not reply, she would not even look in the direction he spoke of.

"Look now, or die wench." She looked. She did not want to die. Though a small part of her wished she already was.

Before her, she saw three men. They were young, though not for the period to be in war. They were maybe a few years older than herself. They had seen better days. Their clothes were ripped and shredded, their skin covered in a layer of grim. Evelyn noted they eyed her warily, though they seemed to be past the point of fear. Who were these men she wandered? They were soldiers captured by the enemy, obviously, but she wandered where they came from, if they had families, and what would happen when they never returned home. Somehow, she knew in her heart, just as they did, they would not be going home.

The Easterling spoke close to her ear, "Kill them."

Evelyn jerked her head to face him, staring into his emotionless eyes. 'What kind of monsters had the Valar stuck her with?' she thought. She found she could not answer, she just stared at him dumbstruck.

He had more patience than she gave him credit for, because he asked her once more before the pain began, but she refused him. Evelyn could not kill a man for no reason, in cold blood; she just could not do it. Then the pain started. She did not know what it was they did to her; she did not care to know. Even when the men attacked her, she had not known such pain. It tore through her body like a tornado, taking everything with it. She could not take much more, and everyone knew it, the men condemned to die knew it as well, the looks they gave her spoke a common message—Do not let use suffer. And she did not. When her will finally broke, she made it quick, they never knew what happen.

What happened after that was a blur. Evelyn had no notion of the time that passed. She remembered the pain and the blood. She remembered the men's deaths, their faces a permanent engraving in her mind, and she remembered her cage. The cage of darkness became her sanctuary, for when she was in it she did not cause anyone harm. While she was in it, her people where safe, the enemies of her captives where safe. It was the first of many nights she cherished the black cage and cried herself into oblivion.

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