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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 5: the dark hill
Galadriel slid down from the back of the great bird quickly stepping aside when the eagle turned around to face her. She did not move when the giant beak came down only stopping inches from her face.
The Lady of Light inclined her head lightly.
“I thank thee for thy service. May there always be air under thy wings.”
The lidless eyes looked down at the elf a moment longer until the great beast turned, spread its wings and was air-born seconds later.
As soon as the bird was out of sight, Galadriel strapped a bag on her back. The eagle had set her on a small plateau just in view of the black hill. She had only to get down and enter the forest around Dol Guldur.
She looked around but knew that the Elvenking´s people had long deserted this place no longer even stationing a guard on watch.
For years, King Thranduil was sure a new malice had taken up residence here. He had time and again brought this to the White Council´s attention, but always his warnings had fallen on deaf ears. Saruman had always assured the members of the council that the strange happenings were mere coincidences and had nothing to do with a new force once again setting there.
Finally, the Elvenking had given up and left the council and had ordered to close his border to the north.
No fence or wall, however, could stop the ever-increasing darkness creeping forward around Dol Guldur.
After the events some years ago at Imladris where her son-in-law had nearly died and after the recent events concerning her husband, Galadriel was sure that the Elvenking´s warnings should have been considered much earlier – no, not only been considered but acted upon.
Today she was here not only to make up for the neglect but also to rid this forest, once and for all from the darkness.
Just as she went to take the first step, she nearly stumbled at the intense emotion coming from Celeborn down through their bond. Celeborn was dying, and even if this all was only happening in his imagination, the Elf-lord was not able to discern this. His sights and feelings were real for him. If not relieved of his visions, his body would shut down.
Galadriel pressed her lips into a thin line. She shared a deep bond with the silver-haired elf. Where she was logical and controlled, he was the emotional part in their relationship, the one that made her responsibility to wield a ring of power bearable.
She could not entirely suppress the tears watering her eyes. Angrily she wiped them away with a sleeve. She would be dammed to give him up without a fight.
Momentarily she considered using the ring to free her husband from the influence, but she was not even sure at what source she should direct the power. It was still diffuse as who was behind these attacks.
If Saruman were behind this, she would make him answer for his crimes.
She straightened her shoulders. This should end this day.
Hearing Celeborn´s mental cry and feeling his pain she mentally brushed his lips with her own.
`Hold on my love; you are not alone. `
“And neither are you, my lady.”
Galadriel whirled around. Too occupied with the thoughts of her husband she had not watched her surroundings. Not showing her relief at the figure standing at the edge of the cliff, she raised an eyebrow.
“Do I look in need of help to you?” she asked her voice not revealing any emotion. She looked past the elf and spotted the hard-breathing horse just turning around and leaving the plateau.
Glorfindel smiled and inclined his head.
“Of course not, my lady, yet combined forces are always better than standing alone.”
Galadriel looked at the golden-haired elf for a moment longer.
“You know there could be no coming back?” Galadriel searched the thoughts of her companion, but as always, she could not penetrate the other´s defense.
“Two years ago, I warded off the same evil. I already guessed the dark hill as its source. Now I want to have confirmation.”
Galadriel inclined her head; she had expected as much.
“Then I accept your company.”
Without another word she turned and begun her descent.
Glorfindel smiled again. He had evidently perceived her alleviation.
Gathering his belongings, he quickly followed the Lady of Light.
Elrond was leaning at the railing of the high talan. His gaze directed at the distance; his mind was troubled. He had just conferred with his colleague about the condition of Celeborn.
The silver-haired elf´s system was shutting down. Even if he was physically unscathed, the power tormenting his mind was enough for his systems to fail.
The healer took a deep breath but quickly disciplined his features, when he felt a presence behind him.
“Ada, what is happening to Daerada?”
Elrond turned to look intently at his daughter. He knew that she would only accept the truth.
“An evil force had invaded your grandfather´s mind. He is experiencing horrible things, which appear real to him. His sub-conscience is unable to discern it as unreal. If he is not relieved of this soon, he will die.”
Arwen stepped back, her eyes wide.
“But Ada, how do you know so much about this? Grandfather has not spoken to you, has he?”
As soon as the words had left his mouth, the Elf-lord knew he had made a mistake.
“Because Ada has experienced the same.” Elrond briefly closed his eyes. Thanks to his eldest´ forwardness.
Arwen looked at her brother in shock.
“Are you saying that Ada was also under this…this influence?”
Elrond took both hands of his daughter in his. He had never intended to let her know, but knowing the inquisitive mind of his daughter, he would not get away with it.
“Not two years past, some evil force attacked Imladris by invading my mind and reliving horrors I´m not willing to repeat. Without the intervention of Glorfindel, I would not be standing here.”
Arwen's eyes blazed. First with worry but soon with anger.
“And you wanted to tell me this when?” Her voice was soft, yet the irritation clearly audible.
“It´s past, and we thought it settled, yet the events of today…”
Elladan let the statement unfinished.
Arwen swallowed still fighting the shock that her father nearly died without her ever knowing.
“Who was behind the attack back then?” she asked barely restraint.
“We do not know for sure. Glorfindel assumed a new malice at Dol Guldur. The happenings today seem to confirm his assumptions.”
Arwen´s gaze was now also directed at the dark hill.
“And Daernaneth and Glorfindel are on their way to break the spell, right?”
Before Elrond could answer his daughter, Elladan snorted.
“They will rid the hill of all evil.”
Elrond sighed inwardly. I hope you are right, my son.
Galadriel ducked under the low entrance to the underground caverns. She briefly made sure that her companion was following her inside. Glorfindel had just made quick work of the three orcs standing guard.
She was glad for the warrior´s company. Even if the final battle against whoever was residing here would be a mental one; Glorfindel would make sure she would arrive at her destiny and cover her back.
Galadriel wrinkled her nose. The deeper they entered the orc den, the acrider the stench became. Again, she wondered how the disgusting creatures could have been elves once.
She nearly cried out when her forwarding mind repelled at an unseen barrier. The impact made her stumble, and she would have fallen if not for the steadying hand of the warrior behind her.
“We are almost there.”
Galadriel nodded thankful for the help and that Glorfindel was not asking needless questions. He had perception enough to know what happened.
So much for entering undetected. The keeper of this force knew already of their coming.
Galadriel broke through the mental barrier, and quickly both elves ran along the dark corridor to finally emerge into a vast cavern with a dome-like ceiling.
Glorfindel stooped surprised, not having expected such a great space underground. However, what attracted his attention was the throne at the far end of the cave and the being on it.
Galadriel had also stopped abruptly, her gaze fixed on the wavering being. They had found their opponent at last.
However, before Glorfindel could even think of their next steps, Galadriel was already marching forward, her frame becoming more and more rigid the nearer she came the throne.
Glorfindel followed the Lady of Light with some distance, not sure, however, how he should protect her and what an attack would even look like.
“Release him,” Galadriel cried both hands raised in the air, the fingers crooked into claws and pointed at the evil spirit.
Glorfindel could not make out any shape. The being on the throne was wavering. Flames were radiating from a core outward, starting deep red until ending in a blinding white.
Was this Sauron in some bodiless form or one of his mighty helpers?
Whoever this being was, he must have help from outside, someone who knew about the inner secrets of the mighty elves on Middle-earth. Otherwise, such precise attacks would not have been possible. The only possibility in this regard was Saruman. No other could provide such vital information.
Glorfindel had no time to analyze the situation further. Galadriel was now standing in front of the throne, her hands still raised and a blinding white light emitting from her fingertips.
When the light reached the wavering being, the two energies seemed to duel for dominance. Glorfindel had to shield his eyes partly, the blinding light nearly overwhelming.
Just as Glorfindel was sure Galadriel would gain the upper hand, the she-elf cried out and staggered back. With horror, the warrior saw a black projectile sticking out of her chest.
He looked around wildly but could not make out the concealed shooter. Galadriel, however, seemed not to notice the pain, her appearance changing even more into something no longer resembling an elf. Her long hair was blowing behind her along with her cape appearing torn to shreds. She let out an unearthly cry.
“Retreat to the shadows where you belong. You no longer have power here.” With that, she released another powerful burst and then chaos erupted all around them.
The being was thrown back over his throne, and a mighty explosion sent a shockwave through the room sweeping both elves away. Before Glorfindel had a chance to rise again, many orcs were swarming the cave from crevices along the walls.
He cried out when he saw that Galadriel was hoisted up by an unusually tall orc only to be thrown back to the stone floor a second later with a massive boot landing on her chest.
She must have been weakened by the power burst because he did not see any resistance from her.
He had already hacked down many orcs with his sword when he felt a searing pain in his back. He turned to see an Orc with a bloody sword behind him already raising it again. At the last moment, he parried the blow only to be engaged in another attack seconds later.
“Galadriel,” he cried. “We cannot hold on much longer.”
Having beheaded the orc in front of him, Glorfindel readied his bow and shot the orc pinning the Lady of Light down.
Instantly Galadriel rose. The orcs around her were blown away by a sweep of her hand. Galadriel marched again toward the still cowering being behind his throne and released another energy burst. Glorfindel cupped his hands protectively over his ears when an eerie screeching erupted. The being wavered once more until it was blown away by the bursting wall, a dim light in the sky marking its passing.
The breaking of the wall had destroyed the stability of the dome, and huge stones were raining down. Glorfindel had no chance to avoid the downpour. His world went black in an instant when a large boulder hit him.
To be continued…
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