The darkening of hearts

By Nuredhel

Drama / Romance

Tigress in lambs clothing

Chapter 13 Tigress in lamb’s clothing

Belegornith just knew that this would be a waiting game and it was. In the evening the tall ner entered the room once more. Alciel couldn’t pretend to be unconscious anymore but she did puke a lot and Belegornith just loved the expression of utter disgust on the male’s face. He looked as if he would rather be somewhere else. She told him Alciel’s body needed some time to get rid of the poisons and that it would take at least a day and the ner looked furious. She knew that this was one power hungry and nasty person and she tried to look as meek and harmless as she could and luckily Alciel was too busy throwing up to say her heartfelt meaning and that was good, Belegornith had heard of this nis flaming temper.

Belegornith often went to the window and listened, she did hear the sound of someone approaching and she heard horses whinny and distant voices. Apparently the would be groom had arrived and some others with him. She hoped there wouldn’t be too many present, her friends didn’t want to end up as kin slayers but she knew that the avarin elves would kill if they had to. She had no doubt that these noldor were fanatics and probably more than a wee bit insane too. How could anyone believe that the family of Alciel would let something like this happen without trying to fight it? She knew the Finwions from countless tales and if what she knew was right there could be an army heading their way already now. Oh how she longed to watch these scoundrels getting their just punishment.

Alciel was pining, she felt horrible and she was fuming with rage and fear and yet it didn’t subdue her spirit, not even a bit. She was in every way her father’s daughter and Belegornith knew that she would be alright, if they just could avoid the marriage. She hadn’t dared to give Alciel any food since she had told of the drugs she feared the culprits already had added to it and she just blessed the fact that some of her medicine could be used to counteract such deviltry. She had already given Alciel a dose of it to be on the safe side and she shook her head in disbelief and disgust, such actions were worthy of orcs, not elves. Maybe some of these noldor were reborn orcs, ones Namo hadn’t managed to cleanse completely? That wouldn’t surprise her, not even a bit. She had managed to discover the name of their captor, he was Aicion and Alciel did recognize the name. Her mother had told of him, a very ambitious and ruthless one who always wanted to get as close to the seat of power as possible. He was probably capable of just about anything and nobody should trust him. Now Belegornith made the time pass by singing and making sure that Alciel was as comfortable as possible and she crossed her fingers and hoped that somebody would come, and fast.

In the small courtyard some neri were gathered, Aicion, Lumbano and the young ner who’s name was Avaron. He was a courtier of no real importance, a grey mouse in a corner which nobody did notice and he was ready to follow anyone who did see him and give him some attention. Some warriors were also there, ner working for Aicion and some were noldor but a few were of sindar origin, reborn elves who had taken the job just because they had been warriors also in beleriand and sought what seemed like a secure job. Lumbano was steaming with impatience and Aicion had to calm him down with some well chosen descriptions of Alciel’s condition. The marriage could not be consummated just yet, even Lumbano would find it disgusting to lay with a nis in that sort of state.

They knew that Costaro and Calpon were on their way too and that they soon would arrive and so things would be perfect. They would gain what they so long had waited for, a foothold within the royal clan. That the royals wouldn’t accept them was something neither did bother with, as long as there was a marriage and an heir on the way nobody would dare to intervene. Aicion was sure that even the old king would have bowed to anyone having a good hold of one of the family members, alright, that nis was more than a handful but Lumbano was firm handed and would know how to subdue her soon enough and then they could work their way towards the top. They just had to be patient.

At the same time Costaro and Calpon were making their way south with their servants, they were still fuming and Costaro had a hard time containing his wrath. That little vixen, she had tricked them and by Eru, he would have his vengeance. They had been delayed a lot by the fact that his horse had lost a shoe and now they were late. In fact they were very late and they rode hard. Aicion’s castle lay way to the south and they were expected. Costaro had received word of Aicion’s plans by pigeon and he knew that the leader was angry because he hadn’t managed to get hold of his daughter the way they had hoped to. It was very annoying indeed. That tall sinda had gotten in their way and Costaro would have loved to tear that pretty face off his skull. Costaro had been genuinely scared of the ellon and he could never forgive anyone for having made him look weak. Yes, he should be able to get a fair vengeance, sooner or later.

He was so deep within his own thoughts he didn’t hear the sound of hooves approaching from behind but Calpon did and he quickly turned his horse around and pushed it into the bushes beside the road. The others followed and before long they were passed by two riders on expensive thoroughbreds, riding all hell for leather. Costaro stared, his eyes wide. He did recognize them, it was Orodreth and Argon, offspring of Finarfin and Fingolfin and their presence here only meant one thing, the king was onto them. How much did he know? Costaro swallowed hard, if he did manage to get his hands on Aicion and the others they would speak, he had no doubt about that. They were too weak, to pampered and soft to withstand any sort of torture. And then his name would be mentioned to, and he would lose everything, his name and fortune and even his reputation.

He needed leverage, something he could use to secure his standing, make sure he didn’t face some centuries in the halls. His mind was working overdrive and he was sweating, he imagined being exiled to the high north, or worse, middle earth. He was too wise and too smart to end up as an orc’s dinner. No, he had to act, now!

He turned to Calpon. “Change of plans, we do return to the village, but we won’t follow the road. They were heading there too, we cannot allow ourselves to be seen.”

Calpon frowned. “What are you planning on doing?”

Costaro almost sneered. “Lerina is protected by that overgrown sinda, we shouldn’t try to engage him, not without an army by our side. But my granddaughter? Her husband is not a warrior and she often works alone. If we have her we can travel south, find somewhere safe and make a living for ourselves. Only primitive elves live in those woods, I bet they would welcome us and let us rule them the way that sinda Oropher ruled the silvans.”

Calpon did frown but he didn’t protest, he just knew that this was a plan which could backfire, he didn’t like the idea of having a hostage. Such actions usually spelled disaster in big fat letters and if Costaro was going down he didn’t want to follow him at all. He would have to make sure that he could flee if it came to that, and he would have no problems leaving Costaro for the wolves, quite literally.

They rode away from the road and Costaro was swearing to himself as he chose a forest road which would take them to the village again, from another direction. It was long and winding but not that well known and he didn’t bother thinking of the mess Aicion and the others would face soon. All that mattered was that he got away unscathed.

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The avarin elves had gathered and rode out and messengers either rode or ran through the canopies to alert the other tribes of the kidnapping of one of their healers and a noldorin elleth. They knew of the old hunting lodge and it wasn’t that far away but they wouldn’t approach right away, they feared that a sudden attack would force the kidnappers to use the ellith as shields and so they tried to come up with a good plan. The avarin warriors were excellent archers and they had also alerted the local sindar and noldor of the situation and so the news spread through the forests with the speed of a falcon.

Lerina and Mablung were busy taking measures of the oak when Beleg suddenly came running into the clearing, he was carrying a bow and a quiver packed with arrows and a sword and he did look rather furious. Mablung dropped his tools and frowned and Lerina felt a shiver run through her, the peace had come to an end, she just knew it. “What brings you here my friend?”

Beleg bowed his head towards Lerina in respect but his eyes were blazing. “An avarin elleth has been kidnapped, by some noldor morons who also have taken the daughter of Fêanor as hostage. They want to force her to marry one of them, to get a foothold within the royal family”

Lerina felt dizzy, Alciel? Oh Eru, no! Mablung sneered. “Are you serious?! That is just…”

Beleg nodded. “I know, but they have. The ellith is being held in a hunting lodge west of here, it is old but well known, it belongs to a noldor lord, probably one of the conspirators.”

Lerina swallowed, she felt cold all over. Her father, her father was one of them, she was dead sure. “ We have to go to the village, to tell Ariniel. She and Alciel are so good friends, she would want to know.”

Mablung nodded. “ Yes, I have my weapons at her place too. Is everybody going?”

Beleg smiled, an ominous looking grin” Oh yes, you can bet upon that. Belegornith is a very good healer and very well loved by everyone.”

Mablung just grasped Lerina by the hand and they ran back to the village, she felt her heart beat hard in her chest and her mouth was dry. If they had called for a healer it meant that Alciel was hurt in some manner and her very soul ached at the idea of that bright and rebellious young nis subdued by someone with evil intent. They ran into Ariniel’s house with Beleg hot at their heels, he did look as if he was ready to slay just about anything and Ariniel dropped her basket of nuts with a small yip. “What is going on?!”

Mablung growled. “Some idiots are trying to do the same to Alciel as Lerina’s father tried to do to her. Forcing a marriage. I trust you haven’t heard of this yet, but Alciel may need some help when she has been rescued.”

Ariniel gasped and her eyes got huge and wide. “Oh Eru, that is just awful! How do you know?!”

Beleg stared at the floors. “They have kidnapped an avarin healer too, she has sent a message to one of the avarin shamans with the help of a bird.”

Ariniel seemed to tremble. “Oh no, that means she is hurt. Are you going now?”

Beleg nodded. “Yes, as soon as all the clans have gathered. We cannot afford to wait any longer. If they force a marriage Alciel could be harmed both in hroa and fêa and Belegornith could be disposed of. These are ruthless beings, I have barely heard of worse.”

Lerina swallowed. “Are there a horse available anywhere? I want to come too!”

Mablung sent her a rather strict glance, then it softened. “I bet that can be arranged my love, but do not do anything stupid.”

She shook her head and Ariniel spun around. “I want to come too, I need a horse as well”

Lerina swallowed. “No, stay here. This is the closest village to the lodge and this is where we will take her when she is freed. You need to prepare the house, gather medicine and everything we may need. There could be many wounded if those idiots chose to fight.”

Ariniel was fighting herself for a while, then she sort of calmed down. “Alright, I will stay. I am after all no fighter, I will prepare for the worst though”

Lerina hugged her. “Great, gather the ellith and make sure everybody knows what to do”

Mablung was about to step outside when two riders came racing into the village. Lerina gaped, it was Orodreth and Argon, both very recognizable and very agitated. Mablung and Lerina went to them and both the ner tried to speak at the same time and Mablung had to shout to make them slow down and concentrate. They told what they had found out and were shocked to find that Lerina indeed were married again but this time of her own free will, and now they put two and two together and it was no doubt that Costaro was among the ones trying to overthrow the king. Lerina was thrilled to find that Finwë had returned and now they even knew the names of some of the conspirators. It was excellent.

Orodreth was a bit awestruck by meeting Mablung and now things started happening rather fast. The army of avarin elves moved out, towards the lodge and Mablung got Lerina a horse and they followed. Lerina was very determined to stop anyone from harming her daughter’s best friend and she did look very angry. There was fire in those normally gentle eyes and Mablung smiled at her. She was spectacular like that. So fiery and so passionate, she had more fire in her than anyone could have guessed and he liked that. She wasn’t one to bow to problems, instead she would face them head on.

At the same time an exodus happened also from Tirion. Finwë had gathered every available warrior, and some vanyar who had fought in the war of wrath had also volunteered. Finarfin had returned with Costaro’s wife who had been put in the dungeons until further notice and now he had changed to a new armor and did look like a warrior. Every one of the family did follow the army, even Nerdanel and the twins and all carried weapons. Some citizens did show up to see the army leave and it was an impressive sight. Some of the maiar showed up too, shocked by the actions of these eldar and a couple agreed to follow the army in case the culprits refused to surrender. Finwë had braided his impressive mane and he wore his best armor, one Fëanor had made for him before the darkening. It was very beautiful and yet a bit ominous and he thought that it was very fitting for the situation. Everybody within the households of the suspected conspirators were put under arrest to prevent anybody from warning the ner in question and Tirion was buzzing like a beehive with speculations.

The army consisted of at least five hundred warriors and that was if not a huge overkill a very impressive number. Finwë had decided to let Finarfin lead the troops, after all, he had fought a real war while Finwë didn’t have that sort of experience. They rode hard to the south and knew they would reach the lodge within the next two days. The horses were fit and strong and well rested and the riders eager to show their skills yet again.

The avarin army was larger, at least three times the number of noldor and vanyar elves but it was quiet. Barely a sound was heard as it moved forth through the woods and they reached the lodge early in the morning. The ancient building was soon surrounded but nobody inside of it knew of that fact. The wood elves did know the art of staying hidden, a huge group could be in one’s close surroundings and yet nobody would know. Mablung and Lerina sat in a tall beech which allowed them to see the top of the buildings, she stared at the old lodge and found it rather sinister. It didn’t look like a cozy place at all. Some servants left to gather water, others to tend to the horses grazing on the pastures around the place. None did notice that they were being watched and the shaman who had received the message had already called a raven to him and told it to seek Belegornith. The bird cawed and nodded and took off and Mablung knew that these avarin elves were so connected with nature they could do things others would think was impossible.

Belegornith had been half asleep when the raven arrived, it cawed and blinked and she ran over and allowed it to rest on her shoulder. It told her the avarin elves had arrived and she breathed a sigh of relief. It was about time. The raven told her they would step into action soon, but the forest told them others too were on their way and they wanted to wait for them to catch up. Belegornith was a bit puzzled until the raven told of riders wearing shiny metal and she grinned, a rather sinister grin which told of a lot of dark joy. The noldor were coming, the culprits would face their full wrath!

The day went calmly, the avarin elves waited and as the sun set the first part of Finwë’s army reached the area. The avarin elves met the first of the warriors in a clearing and Finwë didn’t get any less angry when they told of Belegornith and the fact that Alciel was sick. Finarfin was almost shivering and Nerdanel went deathly pale and Amrod and Amras had to help her down off her horse. She was shaking all over and some of the avarin ellith came forth to help her. Lerina too came forth and everybody was rather shocked to find out that she by now had married Mablung but everybody were very happy on her behalf and congratulated her whole heartedly. For a moment joy filled the air before things got serious once more, the avarin elves saw to Beleg for leadership now and he and Finwë and the others of the family sat down to make a plan. If they just attacked the lodge Alciel and Belegornith could be harmed, they had to use more brains than brawl.

Lerina sat with Nerdanel and heard everything which had happened from her, she felt a bit guilty having been through her most wonderful days ever while Alciel had been kidnapped like that but what could she really do about it? Nerdanel was still in shock and the twins were trying to cheer her up, they were firm in their belief that Alciel would be rescued soon. It was just a small hunting lodge, barely a fortress at all and there couldn’t be more than twenty elves defending it. They just had to get someone inside, to keep the gates open. Lerina did see that Mablung and Beleg and some other warriors had gathered and they were clearly discussing the plan. The avarin elves were excellent climbers and could probably get up over the walls rather fast but then they would need some sort of distraction so nobody did notice what happened before it was too late to stop the attack.

Finwë had listened with his head cocked to the side, his eyes were narrow and he nodded with a stern expression on his handsome face. “I know that they expect us to react to Alciel’s kidnapping, if anyone else than someone of her family shows up that will look suspicious. I think I will ride out and face them, and if they haven’t seen me since my rebirth that ought to shake them out of balance at least for a while.”

Finarfin frowned. “Father, that is a bit dangerous, what if they decide to get rid of you right away?”

Finwë sent his son a rather devilish grin. “Fear not son, I am harder to kill than anyone knows, I am not without power now that I am reborn. They will face something more than a king”

Finarfin didn’t look entirely convinced but nodded and Finwë turned to Beleg. “There is no moon tonight, and the clouds are thick. It will be pitch black. Can your warriors get over the walls still?”

Beleg just grinned. “Of course, the walls are old and ragged. There is plenty of hand and footholds there and we do see rather well even in darkness you know.”

Finwë smiled and took a deep breath. “Before midnight then, when everybody is tired and ready to sleep. Prepare yourselves, tonight we rescue my granddaughter and your healer”

Everybody nodded and Mablung walked over to Lerina and kissed her. “Don’t worry my heart, we will get her out. “

Lerina tried to smile but she felt worried still. Something was eating away at her heart and she didn’t know what it was. She just felt very worried. After a while she managed to calm down and everybody moved into the deep parts of the woods, where they could stay hidden. Some warriors stayed as scouts but nothing would happen before it got dark. They ate and talked, very quietly and Lerina could sense the anticipation within the huge group. Now the noldor and the avarin elves stood side by side and she did see that Mablung and Beleg went around and picked the ones who were going to join them scaling the walls. They picked the best climbers and every ellon they picked seemed to be overjoyed by it. Mablung showed himself as a leader now, he and Beleg obviously got a lot of respect from the others there and they explained every detail of the plan to each and everyone. Ropes were gathered and prepared just in case and others prepared to take care of prisoners and wounded.

Lerina did notice that everything happened in almost complete silence, everybody knew exactly what to do. Nerdanel had been placed in a tent underneath a huge elm and the twins were with her, they wouldn’t participate in the attack, just stay by their mom to keep her safe. Finwë was preparing too, a maia of Oromë was standing by his side speaking quietly and Finwë was nodding. He looked very intense and Lerina knew that he had removed the silk gloves, this would be an attack where force would be used. Nobody hurt his family and got away with it. The sun was setting now and the warriors chosen started to gather, the avarin elves had some sort of ritual now. They covered themselves with warpaint in a very dark color and so did the sindar to. It would help hide them in the darkness and Lerina saw that her beloved too smeared the goo all over his skin. Now only his eyes did shine in the dark color and he had pulled his hair back tightly into a bun. He wore only pants and boots and he had daggers in his belt and a sword strapped to his back, he did look very dangerous. The warriors did embrace each other, smearing the paint onto each other, showing that now they were as one.

It was both terrifying and in an odd way beautiful, they would watch eachother’s back and protect their brothers in arms. Lerina did not worry about Mablung, she had a strong feeling that these noldor conspirators were no match for him at all. She just feared for Alciel, she prayed that they weren’t too late. It got very dark and Mablung came over, gave her a swift kiss. “ I will be back soon love, and then we will celebrate a victory”

She smiled and wished she could have touched him but he was covered with dark blue paint and she didn’t want that all over her clothes. It would be time for that afterwards. The warriors left and she remained sitting by the tent, feeling restless, almost irritable.

Finwë had chosen some of his men to follow him, it would look odd indeed if he arrived alone so he had given some of his best warriors orders to act as if they were the entire group which followed him. All wore armor and all rode good war horses and some of Finarfin’s personal guards were among them, just to show that he now was the high king yet again. They waited for a while, then Finwë gave the signal and they rode forth. Now was the time to act, and he had a very stern expression upon his face. He would not bow down this time, no matter what.

In the woods the avarin and sindar warriors had reached the back of the lodge, and Mablung and Beleg had split the Ellyn into two groups and now they started the climb from two different places. The buildings were old and a bit worn due to rain and wind and the mortar between the rocks had been washed away, leaving gaps the wood elves could use and the warriors climbed the wall with an almost disturbing ease. They almost flew up and Mablung was among the first who stepped onto the top of the surrounding wall. His sword was in his hands and he sneered, his blood was boiling and the battle rage was seething within his fëa.

Finwë and his men rode hard out of the woods and they stopped not far from the gate, Finwë stood up in his stirrups and shouted out loud. “Open the gates, your high king demands it!”

His voice had always been awe inspiring but now it was even more so, loaded with power and confidence and they could hear the sound of quite a commotion from inside. After a while a small hatch in the gate opened and a very nervous ellon could be seen. “ Ah, the master of this place is not here, I am not allowed to open the gate to anyone”

Finwë made a very stiff grimace. “Is your master more powerful than me? Does he have more authority?”

The ellon shook his head, he did look as if he was ready to piss himself, if he hadn’t already wet his pants. “ N….no, but…he…he is …gonna be so…mad!”

Finwë stared at the walls and knew that Mablung and Beleg and their men already were inside. “I do not fucking care, I know that your master have my granddaughter kept as a prisoner. I give you four minutes to open the gates or we will attack!”

The answer was an arrow which came flying from the top of the wall and Finwë snatched it out of the air, it was aimed for his chest and he sneered. “Shooting at your king? That is high treason, and you know the punishment for such a crime. Surrender now and face a jury or remain inside and die pitifully like a beast”

There were screams heard and suddenly the gate opened, dark figures could be seen and Finwë and the others spurred their horses and rode in. The warriors hiding in the woods followed and before long the entire yard was filled with elves. Finwë shouted. “Look for Alciel and the healer, they are in one of the towers!”

Finarfin and Mablung threw a swift glance at each other and ran off, some avarin Ellyn followed them while Finwë and Beleg went searching for the conspirators. There were that many elves present there, most were servants who had surrendered at the sight of the warriors but they had had to fight a couple of Ellyn Mablung would describe as mercenaries. Now they ran up the stairs and came face to face with a rather young ellon who obviously were among the conspirators for he yelled and grasped a dagger and tried to attack Finarfin. The former high king parried elegantly, smacked the ellon across his arse with the flat of his sword and tossed him down the stairs with a curse. He didn’t even look at the other elf and Mablung sort of cringed, the conspirator had certainly broken at least some bones in the fall.

Finwë and Beleg rushed through the corridors and rooms and their warriors searched the rooms one by one. They found just a few terrified servants until they discovered a flight of stairs leading down into the basement. If someone tried to hide it would be there and Finwë grinned in anticipation. He kicked the door open with a huge bang and then they ran in. They held their torches high and before long they saw two Ellyn trying to barricade the corridor with old wine barrels and other debris. Finwë had a very cold expression upon his face. “Aicion, and Lumbano. Surrender or die!”

Lumbano made a sort of squeal and he was paper white, he held his hands high as a sign of surrender but Aicion swore and threw a rock at the approaching warriors and tried to pry open a door at the back of the corridor. Beleg reacted within the blink of an eye, he fired off an arrow and it pierced Aicions arm and pinned it to the wall. Aicion screamed in pain and anger and Finwë smiled, a very dangerous smile. “You have forfeit your life Aicion, everything you own is now the belongings of the crown and your house and name is no more”

Aicion screamed again, in frustration and tried to pull the arrow free but he couldn’t. Some warriors removed the barrier and tied up Lumbano and they did free Aicion but they were not very gentle. Finwë did slap Lumbano over his face, very hard. “So you piece of scum wanted to be a part of my family? By forcing yourself onto my grand daughter? Oh this is going to be so sweet”

Mablung and Finarfin kept running, and finally they found a barred door. They opened it to find Belegornith and Alciel sitting on a bed, both visibly nervous and Alciel was pale and looked rather terrible but she was alive. Alciel let out a small shriek when she saw Finarfin. “Uncle!”

Finarfin ran forth and grasped her, hoisted her up into his arms. “Shh, it is alright little one, you are safe now”

Alciel immediately broke down into tears and Mablung helped Belegornith, she grinned and her eyes did shine. “ I hope the high king is planning on making a good example of those Eru damned morons?”

Mablung smiled. “ I bet he is. “

They walked back downstairs, some warriors had taken care of the ellon Finarfin had disposed off, he lay on a stretcher, securely tied up and the yard was rather quiet. Everybody was arrested and the wood elves had caught a few of the conspirator’s body guards who had attempted to flee. Mablung and Finarfin did transport the two females back to the camp and Nerdanel broke down in tears when she saw her daughter. The twins were hugging her and both were weeping too and the avarin elves were cheering heartily when they got their healer back. Belegornith was not harmed but she was very angry and she wanted to be there when the guilty ones got their punishment. Finarfin promised that they would have that arranged. Lerina let out a sigh of relief, nobody on their side had been injured and the whole thing had been over in less than half an hour. The prisoners were tied to a tree each and put under heavy guard and things seemed to be normal until somebody started asking Aicion question. Who were his companions? Where were they? It became apparent that Costaro and Calpon were missing and Finwë did look a bit worried. Lerina became worried too, her father was capable of a lot and she didn’t like the idea of him being on the loose.

Mablung grasped her by the hand and they ran down to a local pond where he scrubbed off the paint and she saw how the excitement made his eyes shine and he was grinning widely. “You should have seen how Finarfin disposed off that idiot, he was impressive. The noldor do know how to fight.”

Lerina just giggled, he made her feel funny with the water sparkling on his skin and that light in his eyes and he grasped her and laid down on the grass with her. Before long they were kissing and cuddling and he whispered to her. “Still sore?”

She shook her head. “No”

It came out as a small squeal and he sort of groaned. “Perfect, for I cannot wait any longer, I must have you again”

Lerina gasped and he pulled her clothes out of the way, his breath hot against her neck and she threw her legs around him and let out a louder gasp as he entered her. She was ready, had been since he returned and there was no pain this time, just intense pleasure. It didn’t take long before she was writhing and moaning and when they both came it felt like an explosion within. He was rather insatiable this time, the excitement had fueled his passion and Lerina was feeling like rug when they both finally were sated. They laid there in a heap with their clothing scattered all around and Lerina had a silly grin on her face and Mablung just laid there, panting and trying to recover. She giggled. “Sooner or later someone is gonna complain about our noise level”

He grinned and ruffled her hair. “ I don’t really care, I do hope we never lose that fire sweet one, for it is wonderful”

Lerina yawned and he pulled her closer. “Sleep little one, it is yet some time before the sun rises again”

She curled up and let him warm her and she drifted off into sleep easily.

The next morning things were rather quiet, the lodge had been searched through and Finwë had been presented with some papers which incriminated yet two more Ellyn, both members of the upper class and he would strike down upon them as well. Alciel was much better now, she was sitting up chatting with her mother and brothers and Lerina was so relieved to see that she was alright after all. Belegornith had taken care of Aicion’s wound but not in a very gentle manner and Finwë did think it was well deserved. The noldor prepared to return to Tirion with the prisoners and the sindar and avarin elves would return to the village. Lerina hugged Finwë and Finarfin good bye and Nerdanel and Alciel decided to go to the village to see Ariniel. Alciel was still a bit weak and needed a few days to recuperate before she was fit for the long ride.

Mablung was whistling while they rode, he did look very happy and Beleg was teasing him in a very brotherly manner. Lerina on the other hand had a very odd feeling in her guts, she felt as if something was tugging at her very fëa, all the time. Her father was missing, it was something which could spell trouble and she knew that Finwë would launch a full out investigation and that his servants wouldn’t rest until Costaro and Calpon were found. But what if he had fled? Valinor was large, a huge area and nobody really knew how large it was. She would hate it if he got away. She felt no sympathy for him at all, and she knew her mother was arrested as well. The thought didn’t cause her any discomfort at all, she ought to feel sorry for the elleth but she couldn’t. She had no feelings for that female at all, even if she was her mother. She had realized that haven given birth to someone didn’t automatically make you their mother.

Mablung did notice her somewhat flat mood and he did look a bit worried, last night had been wonderful and he had really enjoyed the sensual spark within her, and her lack of inhibitions whence her desire had awakened. Heck, his ass was still sore where she had scratched him and he had some nice bite marks on his neck which had made Beleg make some very silly remarks. Was something wrong? Lerina wouldn’t tell and so they rode in silence.

The village wasn’t that far away and they reached it by the afternoon. Lerina was glad to see the palisades appear, she did see that Alciel was eager to and Nerdanel was very tired. She needed some rest and Alciel had confided in Lerina that she had heard Nerdanel call out for her husband in her sleep. Nerdanel had never forgotten about Fëanor, in spite of everything, and she did still love him. The house of Ariniel was quiet as they rode up to it and Lerina frowned, that was odd. She would have guessed that Ariniel would meet them? Mablung stopped his horse and his eyes were narrow. “Remain on your horses, don’t dismount”

Lerina looked at him. “What?”

He pulled his sword. “Something is off, look”

They did see a turned sack of nuts in a corner and the door was open. Some jugs laid on the ground cracked and broken and the flowers hanging in the window were almost dry. They hadn’t been watered for at least a day. Lerina felt her heart sink and she gasped. Mablung turned into a ghost, he didn’t make a sound, merged with the shadows and went through the house in a few minutes. He came out in a hurry, carrying Ariniel’s husband who had been tied up and was unconscious and Lerina let out a wail and did jump off her horse in spite of Mablung’s warning. The ellon was hot like a stove and had a huge lump on his head and Belegornith was immediately called forth to take care of him. He had to have lain there for at least a day.

Lerina didn’t see any sign of Ariniel and Alciel was shivering all over. “They have taken her haven’t they?”

Mablung nodded, his eyes were shooting lightning. “They have! Oh Eru, I should have guessed this, when Costaro wasn’t among the ones in that lodge”

Lerina just mewled. “Why haven’t anyone discovered this before now?”

A local elleth came forth. “Ariniel helped out preparing everything here, and she left to pick herbs yesterday morning. We didn’t see her again so we just assumed that she had become impatient and chosen to go after you instead”

Mablung growled. “They took her from this place, so she must have returned. I guess it happened late yesterday. Her husband is in a bad state, they have just knocked him down, bastards!”

Lerina whimpered. “Oh Eru, what do we do now?!”

Beleg stared at the two, he did look rather menacing too. “We hunt! And this time the prey is those bastards!”

Mablung nodded, eyes ablaze and teeth bared. “Indeed. Gather the warriors again.”

Nerdanel and Alciel just blinked and Lerina tried to look calm. “Stay here, we will find her. They will face their just punishment”

Mablung grasped a twig and drew a swift map in the sand. “Look, even with well rested horses they cannot have gone that far and from here they can only go in one direction if they want to get away from the high king’s power. South!”

Beleg nodded. “Yes, I will make sure every tribe does know of this. Nobody will aid them.”

Mablung smiled, a sinister smile. “They will ride due south, but then they will meet the great river and it will force them east again, and then they will meet the lake. If we ride south east we will meet them. I want someone pursuing them, forcing them forth, into a trap”

Beleg tilted his head. “That will be arranged, they will know they have someone on their tail all the time”

Lerina felt an unholy rage building up inside. “And let it be known that they aren’t to be harmed, death is too easy a way out.”

Mablung sent her a puzzled look. “It is not like you to be that wrathful my love”

She sneered. “They have stolen my daughter, I have the right to feel wrath”

Mablung nodded and kissed her. “You may appear to be as docile as a lamb but underneath the soft fleece lives a tigress.”

Lerina just smiled but her eyes were dark. Gathering the warriors once again went fast, and now the gathered elves got even more angry. Everybody knew Ariniel and she was regarded as one of their own and they quickly split into two groups. One would follow the two Ellyn and the other would intercept them by the lake. Beleg went forth into the woods and he was shouting something in avarin, some strange words which held some power. Lerina didn’t understand but the avarin elves obviously did and Mablung seemed a bit awestruck. After a while they heard the sound of hooves and into the clearing ran a huge herd of horses. All were white and huge and absolutely gorgeous and in front ran the largest horse she had ever seen. He was shining and elegant and danced over the ground.

Mablung just gaped. “Nahar, Oromë’s own horse”

Lerina frowned. “What?”

Mablung smiled at her, he did look shocked. “The valar are with us in this. The great hunter has sent his own steeds for us.”

A huge mare trotted over to them and sniffed Mablung and Lerina and he grasped Lerina by the waist and lifted her onto the slender back before he sat up behind her. Beleg mounted a long legged stallion and the others got horses too. These animals could run for days and were way faster than any other horse. Lerina grasped onto the thin silky mane and the mare whinnied and pawed the ground, eager to go. Beleg let out a shout. “Ride hard and let them know the meaning of fear. Drive them towards the lake, we will be waiting”

The group to chase Costaro and Calpon rode off and Beleg turned to Mablung and there was fierce joy within his eyes. “Let us not waste any time, let’s ride!”

Mablung spurred the mare and she shot forth, Lerina let out a squeal and Mablung held her tightly. “ We will find her, trust me, she will be alright”

Lerina just sent him a faint smile, the wind tore at her and the speed was insane. She didn’t doubt his words, but she did doubt her own ability to restrain her anger when faced with that creep once more.

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