Four days after departing the kingdom, the host of elves camped along the edge of the forest in the East Bight. The next morning they intended to head straight through the thickest part of the forest, where the spiders and wargs were known to frequent. The camp was quiet that night, as all of them felt the darkness pressing in on them from all sides.
"How are you feeling?"
Dimoriel looked up as Legolas sat beside her, leaning his bow against the tree behind them. They were a fair distance away from the nearest camp fire and curious ears.
"Not well," Dimoriel admitted, looking back down at the piece of wood she was whittling. As much as she pretended not to notice, she felt the darkness intently in her mind. She had not slept the last couple nights, afraid of the nightmares taking hold once more. Whittling was her way of calming her mind, thinking of something else for a while.
"Have you slept at all since we left?"
"The first couple nights I slept a little bit. But I cannot sleep this close to Dol Guldur. I don't think even your singing will help at this point."
"Soon we can return north, hopefully after we have put an end to this dark force invading the wood."
"I hope so. I am not sure what I will do if the nightmares continue."
"You look tired, Lady Dimoriel."
"I will be fine," she said, looking up at Mithrandir. "I am just eager to rid the forest of this darkness."
"You feel it more than most," he said matter-of-factly. "If you'd like, I can try to ease your mind enough to sleep tonight."
Dimoriel glanced at Legolas who nodded encouragingly.
"Alright, if you think it will help."
"We shall see," Mithrandir replied with a smile, bending over her so his eyes were level with hers. "Try and relax."
Dimoriel closed her eyes as the wizard put his hands on either side of her head gently, mumbling something under his breath. It took a minute or so, but suddenly Dimoriel slumped sideways, fast asleep.
"What did you do to her?" Legolas asked, catching her as she slid sideways against the tree trunk.
"I gave her peace, for one night at least. The spell grows weaker the more it is used. Tonight at least, she will sleep well."
Legolas carefully stood, picking up Dimoriel and carrying her over to the fire where he had laid out his own blanket and gear. Duarthon sat nearby, and he looked up as Legolas approached, Mithrandir behind him.
"What happened to her?" he asked, voice full of concern as Legolas gently lay her down on the ground.
"Mithrandir put a spell on her to help her sleep," Legolas explained as the wizard sat across the fire, pulling out his pipe as he watched Legolas tend the sleeping elleth.
"Will it stop the nightmares?" Duarthon asked, looking around at the wizard.
"She will have a dreamless sleep tonight," he said, his eyes following Legolas as he carefully fetched her own blanket and put it over the elleth, brushing her hair out of her face as he stood. The prince sat down at her feet, looking across the fire, his eyes meeting Mithrandir's.
"It is a shame you cannot take away those dreams for good."
"Believe me, Prince Legolas, I wish I could. I was in Gondor for some of the wars Dimoriel fought in. No one deserves to be haunted by such images. War is terrible, but Dimoriel faced some of the worst carnage I have ever seen. I am not surprised that those memories return."
"Is there nothing anyone can do to help her?" Legolas asked, almost desperately.
"I am afraid it is up to Dimoriel to get rid of those nightmares. I can suppress them for a while, but she will have to be the one to permanently rid herself of the memories."
When Legolas woke the next morning, Dimoriel was gone. He looked around, expecting to find her near the forest, getting ready to ride, but she was not in the camp. The surprising part was Sulinte was still grazing nearby.
"She woke about an hour ago and went to scout ahead," Duarthon explained. Legolas looked around at him. The other elf was rolling up his blanket and packing his gear onto his horse. "She says that we are very near a gathering place for a pack of wargs. She wanted to make sure we didn't walk right through the center."
"Do you think it would be better if we all walked the rest of the way?" Legolas mused, staring at the forest thoughtfully.
"I think Dimoriel is the one you should ask about that. Or Mithrandir. He is over there if you want to talk to him." The grey wizard was sitting in a huddle of elves eating breakfast, talking merrily despite the task they were about to undertake.
"Mithrandir, may I speak with you a moment," Legolas called, standing up and straightening his tunic. The wizard looked around, smiling as he stood and approached the prince.
"What would you like to speak to me about?"
"I am curious what your opinion is regarding our next step. I am afraid horses may be too conspicuous, with all the wolves and spiders around, but we may need to get away from an attack in a hurry. What are your thoughts?"
"I think we are several days ride from Dol Guldur still. If we are to get into any fights, having horses will be a blessing."
"Perhaps you are right," Legolas said, watching the elves around the camp packing their gear.
"We ride in ten minutes," he said loudly so the entire camp could hear him. "Make sure you have water and food for the next few days. When we stop tonight we will not have fires to alert the enemy to our presence. Make sure nothing is left behind."
"What about Dimoriel?" Duarthon asked as they prepared to head out.
"She will find us," Legolas said confidently, going to fetch Sulinte. He led the stallion over to Caranghir, whispering a soft word to him before mounting his own horse. The elven guards quickly followed suit, falling in behind him. After taking one look around to make sure everyone was with them, he started west into the trees, the sounds of hooves quickly swallowed as the dense vegetation muffled their passing.
Sure enough, they had been riding for only a few minutes before Dimoriel dropped out of the trees onto Sulinte's back, the hawk Lendis quickly alighting on her shoulder.
"What news?" Legolas asked, not at all surprised by her sudden appearance. He heard whispers behind him, however, indicating some of the guards had been startled by her unexpected entrance.
Dimoriel didn't respond, as the group heard the cracking of twigs and the rustle of leaves heading rapidly towards them. Bows were drawn and swords unsheathed as the host came to an abrupt halt. Dimoriel, however, remained calmly in her saddle, unconcerned at the sound. It was quickly evident why.
"Radagast! I was wondering when you would show yourself."
"Gandalf, I am glad you are here," the brown wizard said, getting off his sled as Mithrandir dismounted and approached him. "It is as I feared."
"The Necromancer?" Mithrandir asked, voice full of concern.
"I believe so," Radagast responded solemnly. "As I told Lady Dimoriel, I fear there is a fight ahead of us if we try to enter the fortress. I entered not long after I sent word to you, and I saw a dark figure, Gandalf. A figure made of shadows and dark magic."
"We must hasten to the fortress and do what we can to drive him out of Dol Guldur," Gandalf said as he mounted his horse once more.
Somehow, they managed not to meet any wargs or spiders for the next day and a half, though multiple times they came upon webs stretched across the path that they were forced to go around. Legolas was grateful for this bit of luck, but Dimoriel only grew more and more nervous.
"We should have met at least three different wolf packs by now," she muttered softly as she rode next to Legolas. "And I do not like the fact that all of the webs we've seen were vacated."
"Let's hope our luck holds out," he replied, eyes on Radagast, who was leading the way through the forest.
"I don't think it is luck," Dimoriel whispered back. "I think we are walking into an ambush. There is no way we made it this far on pure coincidence."
"I agree," Mithrandir said, coming up on Dimoriel's other side. "We have a fight ahead of us, that is for sure. But we must press on. Dol Guldur is not far ahead."
Minutes later, Lendis appeared through the trees, landing on Dimoriel's outstretched arm.
"I was right, it's a trap," Dimoriel said quickly, looking up at Mithrandir as he turned towards her. "There are wargs surrounding us, and more than a hundred goblins waiting in Dol Guldur. We must stand and fight. We cannot make it to the fortress."
"Not all of us can, but Radagast and Mithrandir should be able to magic their way past the goblins," Legolas said, putting up his hand to stop the elves behind. "We will draw out the army and make a stand here. I doubt we will be much use against the Necromancer, but we can give you the time and the space to face him alone."
"Good luck," Mithrandir said before he and Radagast continued into the darkness of the forest.
"We will make a stand here," Legolas called back to the guard, turning to face them. "Everyone into the trees. We can still try and take them by surprise. Spread out and keep your eyes open. The enemy is close."
They left the horses on the path as they all pulled themselves into the trees, creating a wide ring in the canopy. Dimoriel looked up through the foliage above her, and saw the crumbling towers of Dol Guldur in the distance. The sky was dark here, despite the fact that it was only a few hours past midday.
The company did not have to wait long before the sounds of running wolves, snarling and growling, could be heard through the trees. Dimoriel's eyes were focused on the ground below, her face set and emotionless, the way Legolas remembered her at their first meeting.
"Are you going to be alright?" he asked, watching her closely from the branch he occupied only a few meters away.
"If there is one thing I do well," Dimoriel said as she saw the first wargs appear through the trees, her icy voice sending a chill down Legolas's spine. "It's kill."
Before Legolas could reply, she launched herself out of the tree onto the back of the nearest warg, drawing her sword and plunging it into the wolf's skull. As it fell forward, she did a summersault off of its back, pulling her sword free and slashing at another wolf as it leapt toward her. The wolf went down, its bottom jaw sliced off.
As much as Legolas wanted to watch this amazing display, he gave a sharp whistle instead, signaling the rest of the elves to enter the fray. He fired an arrow at a wolf that was running towards the nearest horse before dropping out of the tree and pulling out his silver knives, slicing up at a wolf as it ran by, causing it to stumble forward. He stabbed one blade it its neck, killing it instantly as he used the other to slash at another warg bearing down on him, his sharp knife cutting through the bone of its muzzle and through the eye.
Try as he might, Legolas could not both fight off the wargs and keep an eye on Dimoriel. Through the howling and growls of the wolves, he could hear her screams of rage cutting through the forest. At least she was still alive. But the waves of wolves continued, and he had little doubt that the goblins of Dol Guldur would soon be upon them as well.
It had been many long years since Dimoriel had fought in the Wainright Wars, but her muscles moved as if no time had passed. She vaulted over corpses and spun off of trees easily, her sword covered in dark red blood. Her jaw was clenched and her eyes fierce as she felt the bloodlust coursing through her body. She was quickly lost in the fight, her only thought to kill whatever came near her.
When the goblins finally arrived, adding their own screeches to the cacophony filling the woods, Dimoriel barely noticed. Her sword sang as she slashed at wolves and goblins alike. It never occurred to her that they were outnumbered ten to one, and that while her blade was slicing through goblin and warg flesh, knives and claws were slicing through her own as well. Her bright red blood mixed with the blood of wolves and goblins screaming around her as they fell.
Her blood-splattered face was contorted with pure hatred as she gave off a savage snarl, facing down a black male warg. It was not as eager to jump into the fight as its kin, dead at the elleth's feet. It circled her slowly, watching her slice at goblins that dared to get too close. As she spun around to behead a goblin that ran within her reach, the warg launched itself at her, bearing her to the ground, his teeth sinking into her shoulder. She screamed in rage and pain, kicking up at the warg's underbelly in an attempt to free herself. The warg squeezed her shoulder harder, picking her up and flinging her into a tree.
Something cracked as her body collided with the solid timber, but she was so lost in her madness that she ignored the pain, standing up to confront the wolf again. It snarled, baring its teeth. She snarled right back, her own teeth showing as she pulled out a short hunting knife. Somehow she had lost her sword in the melee. The warg's fangs were longer than her knife. Sensing her weakness, the wolf launched itself at her again, slashing out with its claws. Dimoriel leapt out of the way, throwing her knife at the wolf as she spun around, landing in a crouch on top of a pile of bleeding corpses. The knife caught the wolf in the side, but was not deep enough to kill it instantly.
Turning back to her, the warg started for her a third time, but she dodged once more, landing less gracefully on her side in the mud. She pushed herself up on her hands and knees just as the wolf came at her for the fourth time, not pausing in between attacks anymore. She was barreled over by the wolf, screaming in pain as her injured shoulder came in contact with a goblin helmet. The wolf stood over her triumphantly, his teeth dripping with blood and saliva.
She glared up at him, growling at him defiantly. As he opened his jaws to finish her, she grabbed the goblin helmet and shoved it into his open maw. He shook his head in surprise, trying to dislodge the metal object. Dimoriel grabbed a rusty goblin blade from the pile of corpses next to her. As the warg shook its head to the side, the helmet flying out of its mouth, Dimoriel gave an angry scream, slicing up with the crooked sword, cutting through the soft flesh on the wolf's neck.
As the wolf fell in a heap next to her, its blood covering her face and chest, she roughly pushed the body away from her, standing up slowly, her chest heaving. Ignoring the damage to her own body, she launched herself at a goblin that was running towards the heaviest of the fighting, knocking it off its feet as she rolled away, still clutching the goblin blade. The goblin stood and howled in anger, coming after her. Two other goblins ran towards her from the side. She rolled away from them, grabbing another loose sword, planting her feet as she skewered one of the goblins and slashed out towards the other two. Her sword connected with one blade as she dodged the other, kicking the dead goblin off her second sword.
She fought the two goblins, ignoring the blows they landed, until she slashed one across the chest and cut the other through the gullet, his intestines spilling out onto the ground. She stood over the last one as he writhed in pain, watching him suffer for several long moments. When she had enough, she took her sword and sliced off his head, which rolled away into a muddy hole below.
She looked up panting. The battle was over. What goblins and wolves remained alive had fled, while the elves started looking for their fallen, pulling them out from under the bodies of their dead foes. Her breathing slowed as the bloodlust faded, her vision clearing as she took in the carnage.
She was glad to see that nearly all the bodies filling the roadway were of goblins and wargs. Only a handful of elves could be seen, lying still among the black corpses. Dimoriel looked down at herself, covered in blood, both black and red. Suddenly, she felt lightheaded. Her eyes started to fall out of focus as she fell to her knees, swords slipping from her hands. The last thing she remembered was looking down at her hands, completely coated in red and black slime, before everything went dark.