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A/N: to understand this story fully it would be advisable to read part 1.
Warning: the story is rated PG-13: this chapter contains violence, disturbing themes, and death
Chapter 4: a nightmare
When Celeborn awoke, he felt pain—all-consuming pain. He could not discern where the hurting was coming from; it seemed that his whole body was the source. With a groan, he rolled from his side onto his back. Though it was dark, he could make out the ceiling of a room. No, not a room. Rough stone surrounded him, looking like a cave. What was he doing in a cave?
Slowly but insistently his memory came back slamming into his conscience like a mighty wave.
Masses of orcs and Uruk-hai swarming and attacking the Golden Wood, uncounted elves dead with no chance to stop the invasion,
He closed his eyes shortly to digest the picture of his beloved wife being pierced by a long spear. His breathing grew ragged. That was the last he remembered. The power burst his wife had released while her fëa was fleeing her body and his plunge to the ground.
Obviously, he had survived the fall, but this was no room or space at Caras Galadhon. Where was he then?
He tried to rise but fell back with a cry. Intense pain was shouting from every fiber of his body right into his brain. For many seconds he merely lay there breathing in and out. The bolts of pain made coherent thinking or acting impossible at the moment.
He could not say how long it took to banish the stars dancing before his closed eyes. The clank of metal and the rattling sound of a chain, however, made him open his eyes again.
With much effort, he raised his left arm and encountered a heavy manacle around his wrist. Blood was dripping down his forearm from a deep cut to his shoulder. He made no effort to lift his right arm, sure that a similar device was attached there.
Closing his eyes again, he tried to relax and clear his thoughts. Had he survived the fall from the high talan only to end as a prisoner in some orc´s den?
Considering the enormous amount of pain he was in, the orcs had already had their fun even if he could not remember anything so far.
After long moments the stabbing pain was reduced to a dull throbbing. He opened his eyes again and slowly rose to a sitting position. As expected his wrists and ankles were secured with heavy shackles on long chains vanishing into the dark of the room.
Why had the orcs not killed him and bothered to let him live? He laughed a mirthless laugh and regretted the action instantly when his bruised ribs protested fiercely.
Whoever was behind this attack was eager for information and who was better suited than the Lord of the Golden Wood to deliver them?
Celeborn grimaced. Let them come to try.
No sooner, he had come to that conclusion the door was yanked open. The creaking of the rusty hinges grated on his sensitive ears. Dreary light was filtering into the room, so he assumed to be underground.
“Awake already?” an unusually tall Uruk-hai sneered. A fresh wound was gracing his forehead.
Celeborn did not answer only mustering the towering Uruk in front of him. Even with his limbs not bound and with his strength up he doubted he would manage to overpower the brute.
Yet before Celeborn had a chance to react, two orcs came shuffling into the cell from behind the Uruk. With great rusty keys, they yanked on the lockings of the manacles until they opened. Two further orcs hoisted him to his feet.
He could not entirely suppress a grunt when the pain flared anew. His ribs seemed more than bruised.
With dismay, he registered that if not for the cruel hold of the clawed hands he would have fallen back to the ground.
“The Master is waiting. Watch out this one is all trouble,” the Uruk-hai grunted while gesturing for the orcs to bring him out.
Celeborn gritted his teeth when claws sank into his upper arms to get a better grip. He was pulled forward, and just as he crossed the threshold of the cell, a whip landed with a hiss on his back.
This time he could not suppress a cry of pain. The skin on his back felt on fire even before the whip landed there.
Roughly, he was pushed forward over the floor never able to get his feet under him. His probably broken ribs made proper breathing impossible. Only semi-conscious he was dragged along the dark and crooked corridors.
After endless moments, the winding corridors opened up in a great space. Celeborn was thrown onto a rough stone floor. He remained from moving trying to regain some strength. When nothing happened, no one spoke, he raised his head a fraction. He had to close his left eye when blood was dripping down from a cut to his brow.
What his other eye saw, however, let him swallow. They had brought him to a great cave-room with a dome-like ceiling. In the middle stood a black throne-like chair.
Long had the White Council suspected some evil power returned to Dol Guldur—and that he was inside the dark hill he had no longer any doubt.
Seeing the wavering being sitting on the throne dispersed all qualms that evil had again taken residence here, if not Sauron itself.
Celeborn could not make out a shape, yet he could see flames around something like a face. Where there was no nose or mouth visible, he could make out eyes—red glowing, burning eyes. The air wavered in red and yellow, and he was not sure how tall the figure was.
The sitting being suddenly stood and came down the three steps before his throne. He held some kind of staff in his left hand.
Celeborn schooled his features to a mask of indifference. He would not give away how weak he felt and how much he was hurting. That he would not leave here alive, he long accepted, but he would be dammed to give anything away until the very end.
The figure stopped a few steps away in front of him, the flame-framed eyes looking down. Celeborn had the impression that a sizzling noise was in the air. Were there flames or was this just an apparition?
Rising to his knees, Celeborn took a deep breath.
“What do you want?” he cried. He was tired of being manhandled and looked upon; it was unnerving him.
The figure stepped nearer, and now Celeborn could feel the great heat on his exposed upper body. Still, he was not sure if this was a real sensation or only a feeling created in his mind. Anyway, he already shied away from the heat.
“The time of the elves is over. The kingdom of Angmar shall rise again.”
Celeborn blinked. The words were spoken in the black tongue, yet he could understand every word.
What a surprising statement. He could only laugh at the phrase, which ended quickly in hard coughing.
He tried to recede further from the now scorching heat, yet he could not move a finger.
“Yield to me, elf,” the roaring voice said.
Celeborn was not sure if the being looked at him at all.
He still stared at the figure unminding of the blinding light and the heat. Utter calm had come over him, fatigue and pain forgotten.
“Never,” he retorted.
For long seconds nothing happened as if the figure had to contemplate his next actions.
Then the scene erupted in an explosion of flames, light, and heat.
Celeborn was thrown back by a mighty flash of pure light.
He parted his lips and let out an agonized cry, drowned out by the noise of the eruption.
The silver-haired elf cracked one eye open, but he could no longer see the figure. Only a wall of flames could be seen in the middle of the room, no longer any shape recognizable.
What really grated on his nerves was the shrill laughter exploding in his brain.
Knowing that his body was already shutting down, Celeborn closed his eyes and placed his head on the cold stone floor in an attempt to cool his burning skin. He shut out all around him. They could not inflict any more pain or damage only hasten his departure which would sit well with him.
When he already heard the call of Mandos he felt a brushing on his lips, feather-light like a kiss. He shook his head—illusion, imagination, wishful thinking.
But then, he heard a voice in his mind.
´Hold on my love; you are not alone. ´
Tears sprung to his eyes and ran down his cheeks mingling with the dirt and blood.
´I love you. ´
His battered body took a last breath yearning for the luring call of the soul keeper.
To be continued…
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