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Annals of Luinil Gilthoniel

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The Story- War, Part VI

Gilthoniel had just about given up any hope of escape. She lay in the dark, two guards posted close by, and stared at the ceiling, trying to ignore the aches and pains, the smell of blood, and the gut-wrenching fear. But it was to no avail. She moved slightly and the guard closest to her was kneeling beside her, though she was only vaguely aware of his presence. He stood again, but didn't leave her side. The other guard moved towards the cave mouth, for they were once again in a cave. She soon fell asleep, and lay restlessly on the cold stone floor. When next she woke, the queen was being moved. A guard lifted her and carried her from the cave into the bright sunlight. She hid her face against his chest, not caring that he was her enemy. Not caring that she was being taken to her death. The guard stopped suddenly, and Gilthoniel heard someone talking to him. She turned her head slightly to look, and was almost blinded by the sun. Alasdir, she thought, after hearing a few words. The guard holding her simply nodded then continued walking. Before she knew it, Gilthoniel was laying on something hard, and from the way the wind felt against her skin, she knew that she was about four feet from the ground. She opened her eyes again to see a crowd formed around what looked like the gallows, but not quiet. She didn't remember how she had gotten here- the last thing she remembered was being carried away from Alasdir. She coughed slightly, trying to sit up, but was pushed firmly back down. The gathering suddenly fell silent as a man began to climb the stairs to the platform that Gilthoniel was on. She didn't even need to see who it was to know. Alasdir stood beside her in a flash, sneering at her, then he turned towards the gathered crowd. Gilthoniel knew what was to come, had known since the day he had recaptured her. Now she turned her head, looking away from the crowd before her, and closed her eyes, tuning out every sound except her own laboured breathing and the sound of her heartbeat. Alasdir spoke for some time, but when he finished, he made his way over to Gilthoniel again, his hand on the hilt of his sword, and two men behind him. The queen thought that she half-recognized one of the men, but realized he was one the guards that had been in the cave. Each of the guards took up a position on the sides of the queen, and Alasdir stood above her, position right behind her head. Each of the men had their hands on the hilt of their swords, but Gilthoniel no longer cared. A drumbeat began in the background, the only sound added to the scene, and Gilthoniel closed her eyes. The sun, which had been shining on the queen’s face, suddenly disappeared, and Gilthoniel knew that Alasdir stood right above her. She heard the soft sound of footsteps on the wood, and the sound of blades being drawn- though she could tell that they were still halfway in their sheaths. The next moment, as the drumbeats sped up, and Alasdir moved slightly, the swords came fully out of their sheaths, and Gilthoniel closed her eyes tighter- as if by doing so, she would be able to stop her death. As the drumbeat becomes even faster and the men advance with their swords, the queen takes a deep breath, keeping her eyes firmly shut. The next sound she hears, after the drums stop- signaling the end of her life- is metal upon metal as one of the swords meets another, instead of plunging into her still form, or slicing off a limb. She opens her eyes, and glances at the swords, crossed above her head, in shock. The next moment, a heavy body falls forward, dead, and lays across her breast. She cries out in pain as the wait presses her down, then tries to fight against it. A small battle ensues, in which many more are slain. Someone- Gilthoniel was not able to catch a glimpse of the man’s face before he was upon her- lifted the corpse off of the queen, then lifted the queen and ran into the woods. After ten minutes of running, he stopped an laid her on the ground, then took up a watch around her. More men joined, and Gilthoniel thought she recognized a few faces. The thought struck her that she had seen these men many times over the last few weeks, and she tried to move, not wanting to be near them. A hand closed around her arm, and she looked at the man, then did a double take. She did recognize this man. In fact, she knew him rather well. He was one of her own soldiers. “Explain,” she said, and the man let go. He then told her of how his troop had infiltrated the camp of Alasdir and set themselves up as his soldiers; many hours later, Gilthoniel found herself waking up in front of a roaring fire, blankets thrown over her form, and a water skin near her head.

She did nothing more than lift her head and blink, and a man and woman stood beside her. "Are you alright Luinil?" they asked her, their voices matched perfectly in time and tone. They sounded worried, and she didn't exactly know why. She managed a muffled reply, then cleared her throat. "Yes, I am fine." Glancing at the stars and the moon, Gilthoniel then asked, "How long was I asleep for?" The woman looked away, but the man replied, "It's been five days since we rescued you, m'lady." It was evident that her shock showed on her face, for the woman- now looking at the queen again- laid a hand on her forearm and smiled. "All that matters is that you are alright. It was good for you to get some rest. You have Healed much in these past days, and I am sure that you have regained most of your strength." The man was then called away, and Gilthoniel sat up, clutching one of the many blankets about her shoulders as she looked around the camp. "Are we not afraid of being discovered?" she asked, seeing that nothing had been hidden. The woman laughed, then shook her head. "There is no need to be worried. No one out there will be coming after us, we made sure of it." Gilthoniel simply nodded, then glanced at the fire. "Is there any food?" she said, listening to the speech coming from her stomach. The woman made no reply, but stood and returned with a large plate full of food. "It is not surprising that you should be hungry after sleeping for that long," she said, sitting beside the queen and passing the plate to her. Gilthoniel made no reply this time, but picked up bits and pieces of Malia, cooked meats, and various fruits. She stayed awake for many hours after eating, even volunteering to take a shift on the night watch, though the man in charge polietly declined. Gilthoniel went and joined those who were still awake around the fire. "Are we still in Rendor?" she asked one, and got a short reply, "Yes, though we plan to leave on the morrow." Not wanting to talk anymore, the queen lay down and tried to sleep. Surprisingly enough, she fell asleep in a matter of minutes. When she awoke next day, the sun had just risen, and camp was being broken down. The woman who had befriended her the night before was by her side once more, smiling. "Are you ready to leave?" she asked, offering a hand and pulling Gilthoniel to her feet. The queen yawned, then stretched, and smiled. "Yes. As ready as I'll ever be." She looked about, then thought to ask a question for the first time. "My weapons? Is there any chance that they were saved?" The woman said that she did not know, but would be able to find out. She bowed to Gilthoniel, then left. About fifteen minutes later, she returned, with two men in tow. They each carried bits and pieces that Gilthoniel recognized as her own: her cloak, boots, sword, spear, arrows, bow, knife, and her pack. She quickly doned each piece, then laughed as one of the men offer her an armoured shirt. "I do not think I will be needing that now," she said, waving a hand as a horse was brought to her and she mouted. "At least, I pray to Elbereth that I do not."

There wasn't really anything to worry about as they travelled back to Omentuva. Most of her enemies had been killed, and more time had passed than the queen thought. As she looked around, and listened to the conversations, she realized that it was autumn now, not the beginning of summer. She talked to a few of her soldiers, and found out more. Her kingdom had not once been attacked, and that surprised her. Gilthoniel could think of no reason why she would not have been attacked, but she soon thought of a few reasons. She she talked, she asked what happened to Alasdir on that platform, when she had been rescued. No one answered her, and most simply looked away, then changed the subject. Gilthoniel did not know if this was good or bad, but she would make sure that she found out. As they crossed the border into her own lands, Gilthoniel smiled, then closed her eyes. A moment later, her smile disappeared. "There will be so many missing now," she said, referring to those lost in battle. "I will miss them. All of them," she said quietly, meaning Romen. Her children now had no father, except for Halcyon. She shook her head, and travelled the rest of the day in silence. When they stopped to make camp, Gilthoniel shook her head motioning that they continue a bit further. No one argued, and Gilthoniel lead they way. When she finally stopped, it was so dark that the horses were becoming scarred, and they had plenty of reasons. A large river slipped by placidly to the south, and a rather large cliff face was to the east. "We will camp here," the queen said simply, dismounting and begining to set up her bedroll. She then saw to her horse, and looked about. Everyone was busy, most making fires and setting up tents. She smiled again, then lay down and looked up at the stars above.

The next day, they arrived in Omentuva. Her Counsillors were there to meet her, and immediately began to lecture her. Gilthoniel ignored them, waving a dismissing hand and shouldering her way through them. She was tired, dirty, and anxious. She quickly went to her chambers, and was over-joyed to see that the door to the nursery was open next door, and her children were sound asleep in their cradles. She ignored her fatigue, her horse-scented clothes, the mud coating her skin, and the leaves in her hair. Gilthoniel went to the prince and princess and lifted them, holding them close. Before she knew it, tears were streaming down her face, leaving clen streaks on her dirty face. "It is good to see that you are safe," she said to them softly. "I have missed you so much." They stirred softly, but did not wake, and Gilthoniel stood with them. "We must go to the Crossroads."

It was not long before she had arrived, still filthy and tired. She had only just realized that she still wore the same clothes she had been rescued in, and was covered in blood- along with the grime and mud. She stood at the edge of the forest on the Crossroad grounds, looking at the building. She made her way towards the front door and quietly opened it, slipping in. As the room lit up in front of her, Gilthoniel drew back, then smiled. "Lazarus!" she cried, though not so loudly as to wake the babes. It then occured to her, that in all this time, Lazarus could have come to her aid. As she lay the sleeping infants in their cradles, she took the phoenix upon her shoulder. She then felt something, and pet the bird's head. "I understand," she said softly. "It must have been Alasdir's doing." The phoenix whistled a bit of his song, then fluttered down to rest on the couch, above the head of the sleeping babies. Gilthoniel sighed, then settled on the couch as well and soon fell asleep in her muddy, leafy, bloody clothing.

The Story- War, Part V
When she came round, Gilthoniel was still laying beside the man who had tried to carry her up the ladder. Another form lay near her head, and she could smell the fresh blood seeping from his wounds. And her own. The deafening sounds of battle continued around her, but Gilthoniel could tell the fighting would soon end. Wincing in pain, she lifted herself from the ground. A sudden dizzy spell attacked her, and Gilthoniel's head spun. The pain in her head- caused by her fall- was more than she could bear. Her form sank back down, her hand went to the back of her head and came away covered in blood. That would explain the dizziness, Gilthoniel thought. Suddenly, she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. the battle was coming closer; she needed to move. Gilthoniel lifted herself from the ground again, moaning. Without hesitation she reached out and wrapped her fingers around the bloody hilt of a sword- the same one she had cracked her own head on. She was on her feet in the blink of an eye, moving as quickly as she could away from the lines of battle that were drawing ever nearer. Even moving as quick as she could, her steps were slow and unbalanced. The world around her was spinning, and steadily becoming louder. Gilthoniel was forced to pause, to take a deep breath, to steady herself. It seemed that she stood there for a very long time, though in truth, only one or two minutes passed. The sword was heavy in her hand, but she refused to leave it behind as she moved on. Her feet had hardly carried her four paces when she was bowled over, someone attacking her form behind. She tightened her grip on the sword and rolled onto her back. A man hovered above her, a short sword in one hand and a bone dagger in the other. He growled something, but she couldn't understand what- the pain in her head and the smell of blood was making it difficult for her to concentrate. He growled at her again and began to advance; this time his message was crystal clear, and Gilthoniel managed to struggle to her feet, the sword raised defensively in front of her. The man laughed, then spoke in the Elven tongue. "You invite death with that blade, that stance!" he said, the queen recognizing the voice as that of Alasdir. Gilthoniel ignored him and set her feet so she would be balanced. he continued to mock her, trying to draw her into a fight, baiting her. The harder she tried to drown out his words, the easier it was for them to penetrate. Alasdir had lowered his weapons and seemed content to taunt her, but he went too far. She did not hear all that he said, but the names "Ithilwen" and "Aearion" stood out clearly. Gilthoniel lunged, putting all of her strength behind the attack. Alasdir easily avoided her, but he was determined to make her regret the move. The hand with the dagger swept up and across, leaving a wide gash in Gilthoniel's arm. She swung around, finding some hidden strength, and brought her blade up under his defenses. But even with this new strength, Gilthoniel's movements were too slow. Alasdir easily parried her blade with his own, then pressed her sword against her body, forcing Gilthoniel to step away, pinning her back against a tree.

Gilthoniel struggled, trying to slip away from Alasdir as he moved ever closer. She did nothing more than managing to back against the tree, then slide down until she was crouched against it, giving Alasdir even more of an advantage. The queen stared at the man in front of her, daring him to attack, giving her silent message with her eyes. The next thing she knew, Alasdir lunged forward, his sword clasped in both hands. She barely managed to move out of the way of the blade as it sunk into the bark of the tree. In the blink of an eye, Alasdir had pulled it out and lunged again; Gilthoniel managed to dodge once more, rolling to the side and against the enormous roots of the tree, where she was pinned worse than before. She knew she would not be able to keep this game up, as she slipped to the slide of another attack. Her strength was disappearing again. She cried out as the blade bit into her shoulder. her last move had been too slow, and Alasdir had run her through with the sword, and she was now pinned to the roots by the blade; the queen was in more pain than before as she lifted her other arm and wrapped her hand around the blade of the sword. She bit her lip and pulled, gasping in pain as the blade barely moved. Closing her eyes and trying not to think of what she was doing, Gilthoniel wrapped her hand tighter around the blade, feeling the metal bite into the flesh of her skin, and she pulled as hard as she could. The blade came free of the roots, then free of Gilthoniel's shoulder. The cloth around the wound was already black from her blood as she looked up at Alasdir, a weak smile on her face. he said nothing, but his hand flashed forward and the dagger he held ran it's course down her arm- finding a hold in the newly made wound and going towards her elbow. Gilthoniel cried out once more, pain running it's course down her arm.

When Gilthoniel next woke, she was sore, and could still smell blood- both fresh and dried. She tried to move, but for some reason, she was unable to do so. Someone standing close by aimed a kick at her, then called out. The next moment, Alasdir was kneeling in front of her, sneering. He made a small gesture, and Gilthoniel was lifted by her arms. She bit her lip as the hand grasped her newly-made wound. She also found out why she was unable to move: her arms and legs had been bound together. Alasdir looked down at her, then away for a moment. "It's over, you know," he said when he turned his eyes back on the queen. "Do you understand? Over. Done with." Gilthoniel said nothing, watching as Alasdir fluttered his fingers. "Flown off. Scattered to the wind. Gone to lick their wounds or whatever one does when thrashed. Ah... But do set your mind at ease. It's all been taken care of," he went on smoothly. "The noble Romen- by the way, is it true, as I've heard? He is the father of your children? I hear also that he vowed to fight no one but me. I regret the lost opportunity. In any case, he's been properly dealt with- as a piece of carrion. Your friends will no doubt turn up when we clear away the bodies." Gilthoniel looked away from him, tears catching in her throat. Romen, dead? It wasn't possible. And her friends? Alasdir must have been referring to those who helped with her escape, for surely no one from the Crossroads had ventured to her world. As the queen fought her tears, Alasdir had continued to talk. All that she caught of this part of the speech was, "And now I shall have your kingdom, to combine with mine. As well as your life. And don't forget Aearion and Ithilwen. I wonder what I shall do with them?" Gilthoniel spat in his face, and Alasdir started. His cheeks turned a dead white, and he sucked in a long breath, then snapped his fingers. A servant quickly brought and handkerchief, and Alasdir carefully wiped his face. "That was discourteous of you," he said. "You really should not have done that. You spoiled things for yourself." He looked in distaste at the cloth, then threw it aside. As an afterthought, he drove his fist in Gilthoniel's face. She felt something crack, and blood began pouring from her nose. She would have lunged at Alasdir, but the men on either side of her held her fast. She kicked and bucked, trying to wrestle free. Alasdir calmly observed her efforts. "Little queen," he said, and Gilthoniel couldn't help but laugh gently at these words, "I warned you once to keep out of my way." Gilthoniel gently shook her head, then shouted, "Fight me! Fight Alasdir! I challenge you. In front of your officers. They hear me. Accept! You must. Dare refuse? Let them see you shamed." The queen knew she had not the strength to fight him, but she challenged him anyway. Make this one a fair fight... "What challenge?" Alasdir said. "How can there be a challenge from a dead queen? As you are, for all practical purposes. it is merely a question of technical detail. You understand that, surely. Only, now, what to do with you?" He frowned thoughtfully. "You've made me change my plans. I intended on killing you- and of course still do- but how?" Gilthoniel stuggled once more, but knew it was of no use. She glared at him, and he simply laughed at her. "Give me time to think. And while you wait, I put you in the hands of my guards." As he left the tent, he laughed. "I'll be back soon," he said, as Gilthoniel was forced to the ground, back into teh position she had been laying in before, and the puddle of blood that was waiting there. She sighed, knowing what was going to happen. A moment later, she cried out as a blade dug into her shoulder blade.

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The Story- War, Part IV
Galia had returned. She sat beside Gilthoniel, singing every now and again, talking at other times. She held a damp cloth against Gilthoniel's forehead with one hand, and it seemed that she cleaned other wounds with the other. The queen blinked a few times, the opened her eyes and was unsure of whether she had done so. The room was very dark, with only a bit of light coming from around the door, and from the single window. Galia signaled for silence, and it was only then that Gilthoniel realized that there were others in the room. She sent a questioning look in the direction of the others, but Galis simply said, "Be patient, Luinil." Gilthoniel nodded, then smiled at her friend. The dwarf returned the smile, then motioned the others to come closer. As they did so, Gilthoniel recognized more of her old friends. The women gave her gentle kisses on the cheeks, then moved away, letting the men approach. After more kisses, this time on the forehead, Gilthoniel was able to count those present. A good sized group- twelve woman, including Galia, and nineteen men. But why were they here with her? Galia soon answered her question. "We plan to help you escape. Again." The others all nodded and Galia continued, "But we are going with you this time." Gilthoniel shook her head, then whispered, "It is too dangerous." Everyone laughed softly, and one of the men, Gilthoniel could not see which one, spoke. "It was dangerous the last time as well. But we have it all planned out, and we think it will work. But we must leave tonight." Without delay, Galia and the others began to explain what needed to be done, and Gilthoniel was surprised at how well they had planned it. They had every last detail figured our, and Gilthoniel had a rather small part in it all. "We can be ready to leave within the hour," Galia said finally, and Gilthoniel nodded. "Alright. Then I suggest we leave as soon as possible. But I have one thing to add. We need weapons. With this war going on, I would not wish to gbe caught in the wilderness unarmed." Everyone agreed, and they soon left Galia and Gilthoniel to go and prepare for their departure. An hour later, the group had reassembled in a side chamber near the rear entrance to the palace. A group of trusted friends were on duty and would unlock the gates when the signal was given. At present, supplies and weapons were being distributed. Most took simple kitchen knives and stored them in their packs, but a few had real weapons- swords, spears, daggers, and bows. These were given to the mean who were skilled with such weapons, and a sword, dagger, and bow were set aside for Gilthoniel. A few of the women took spears into their hands, and the group was ready to depart. They gave the signal and had no problem getting out of the impound. The group now had to be on the look-out for any movement not caused by their party, and they had to keep an eye on Gilthoniel who traveled in the centre of their group, but was still extremely weakened. The queen, however, had insited on carrying her fair share of the supplies, along with her weapons.

Within the first hour of travel, the escapees came across four different enemy camps, and would have walked right into them- had it not been for the noise. They were able to skirt each camp, though Gilthoniel feared they would come across scouts in the surrounding woods, without incident. After the third camp, Gilthoniel had pushed herself to the front of the pack, even though she hardly had the strength to put one foot in front of the other. Galia shot her a concerned look, but the queen shrugged it off and kept moving. Another two hours passed without a problem, and Gilthoniel managed to keep her pace, but as the third hour approached, the queen faltered, holding a hand up and signaling for a halt. She pointed to a copse of trees where a lone soldier stood, his bow drawn. "Who goes there?" he called, and Gilthoniel took several steps forward. "One who wishes to pass by unharmed," she replied, standing boldly in front of the group, her hand resting on the hilt of her dagger. "None may pass who give not their name," the archer called back, his bow now trained on Gilthoniel's chest. She laughed gently, then gave her reply, "Lower your weapon then! We have no quarrel! I giveth my name freely!" The soldier did not lower his weapon, but gave a soft call, and another soldier stepped into view. The queen gasped, recognizing him as one of her youngest spies. The soldier spoke again, "Give thy name and I may see fit to lower my bow. If not, two arrows shall pierce thy chest before thou art able to flee." The second soldier's bow was now pointed at her chest as she spoke. "I told theee that I would giveth my name freely, and I shall. Some call me Luinil. Others Anawenuial. But neither is my preferred name. I am Gilthoniel, Queen of Omentuva!" The second soldier look surprised, then ashamed to not have recognized his Queen. He lowered his bow, then looked away for a moment. The first, however, addressed her again, with a sneer. "Then you die," he said simply, letting loose his arrow. the queen's spy was quick in his work, allowing his own arrow to fly. The two shafts met and shattered not five feet from the queen, who stood laughing. The soldier called out an alarm, then disappeared into the trees. The spy looked worried, then ran to his Queen, bowing quickly. "You must leave at once, my Queen! He has called more of the soldiers out, and they will be here within five minutes!" Gilthoniel nodded, then signaled for Galia and the others to join her and the spy. "Lead the way," she ordered, letting him stand at the front of the group as she took up a place in the rear, finding new strength. They had moved hno more than ten feet when a loud rustling could be heard and the party stopped dead in their tracks. "It's too late," the spy said softly. "The soldier's have already come. Prepare for battle."

The mass of enemy soldiers that came at them astonished Gilthoniel. There had to be at least seventy men-at-arms coming at their group of less than forty. Weapons were quickly drawn and defensive positions were taken as the escapees and the spy prepared to meet the soldiers of Rendor. Before the battle actually began, three of Gilthoniel's fellows lay on the ground with arrows protruding from their bodies. The queen looked around and discovered archers hidden in the treetops. She alerted one of her fellows, and he soon sent arrows into their bodies. Before they knew it, each of the escapees was surounded and fighting for their lives. Gilthoniel heard another signal ring out through the woods and recognized it as her own, then realized the spy had uttered it, hoping there would be allies in the nearby forest. And surprisingly, the call came back to her ears and she looked up from her battle to see her own colours coming from the trees. She recognized many faces, then was taken aback as Romen passed her. She called out to him, pulling away from the battle to follow him. "Ithilwen! Aearion!" she said, grabbing hold of his arm. He spun, arm uplifted, then relaxed, shaking her off. "They are safe," he said simply, then disapearred. Gilthoniel was soon engaged in battle again, fighting off three seperate attacks. The next thing she knew, Gilthoniel was laying on the ground, a dagger pressed to her throat. She was rolled over, and her hands were bound tightly before she was pulled to her feet. The next instant, a small group of soldiers surrounded her and forced her to start marching. This had all happened so quickly that Gilthoniel was not able to follow the actions taken against her for a few minutes. When she finally realized that the soldiers were marching her into the forest, and away from the battle and any hope of rescue, she called out. "No!" she cried, trying to pull away from the soldier who held the end of the rope that bound her hands. The man returned the pull, causing the queen to stumble and fall against the nearest tree. As she was pulled to her feet, Gilthoniel tried once more. "No!" she called again, then gave up, knowing she was too far from the battle.
The men forced Gilthoniel to walk, though she kept falling to her knees in an attempt to stall for time, for help, and for strength. But each time her knees met the ground, she was pulled cruelly to her feet, holding pack a cry of pain, and forced to keep moving. Then, just as they were passing alongside a stream, she saw movement in the woods. More of these men! she thought. But no, they are too quiet for men. But who else could they be? Then it hit her. Of course! Romen and the others would track her. It had to be them. What was left of them at least. She fell to her knees again, right beside the stream, and cried out as she was pulled to her feet. As she was lifted, her eyes flickered to the trees and a smile crossed her features when she saw Romen, poised for attack. The group of men continued to walk, twisting their way through the trees, following the course of the stream. Romen and the others followed their quen, keeping to the trees. Suddenly, the men stopped. A large tree grew in front of them- wider around than twenty men clasping hands- and a rope ladder fell from the branches above their heads. The next moment, Gilthoniel was slung over the shoulder of the nearest soldier, and he began to carry her up the ladder. The soldier had not succeded in getting more than ten feet off the ground when Romen and the others attacked. It was a silent maneuver at first- a few men and women slipping from the cover of the dense trees and quietly sliding their daggers over the throats of two of the soldiers. As a woman moved forward, the man she was about to attack turned and let out a cry. The next man turned, brandishing his sword at another attacker. Only two men remained, and they rushed forward, trying to get up the ladder. it was only then that they realized their comrade was not yet up the ladder. In fact, he seemed to be falling to earth with the queen still over his shoulder. They both stepped quickly to the side as the man hit the ground right where they had been standing. Gilthoniel cried out as she too landed on the ground, hitting her head on something hard- the hilt of the man's sword. Her head felt wet, and Gilthoniel knew that she was bleeding. A soft moan escaped her lips, and then she fel silent. The two soldiers ignored her and ran for the ladder, only giving a quick glance to their fallen comrade. And the arrow in his throat.

The Story- War, Part III
Her people were free, and it had not cost her much, at least not thus far. She was not afraid of Alasdir. She had not been afraid of him the entire time she had been held by him. Her fear of the elf had left her long ago. But now, as she hung from the cave wall by her wrists, fear crept back into her. Alasdir sat across the room, deep in conversation with men Gilthoniel could only assume were his generals. She kept silent, trying to listen to what they were saying, but not much was said, and she was entirely too weak to break into their minds. Alasdir soon dismissed the men and made his way over to Gilthoniel. He rested a hand against her face, which she pulled away from, causing her head to connect with the stone wall behind her as his strike landed on her face. She asked him many simply questions, but only received one simple reply, "War." Her heart fell as she gazed at Alasdir. "On what grounds?" she demanded, knowing full well what they were. This was the man who wanted her throne so long ago. But when his men destroyed her kingdom, there was nothing for him to take, except for the young princess. Now the queen of the realm that had been rebuilt. But Alasdir had her in his clutches already, what was the need to go to war? "Your children," he answered her mental questioning, and Gilthoniel looked at him in terror as he handed her over to a contingent of a dozen of so of his soldiers and guardsmen.

Gilthoniel sat upright for the first time in days, though it was not surprising- her legs were tied to the sadle of a horse, and each arm was fastened to that of a soldier, who rode on either side of the queen. Alasdir rode two ranks up from Gilthoniel, talking to his generals. She tried to listen to what was being said, knowing that it would be important, but she could not concentrate on any one thing for very long. She did not know if it was due to being drugged, which Alasdir had done last night, or simply from being tired. The army had been on the move for some time, having broken camp and set off a good two hours before daybreak. She now looked up at the sky and noted the time. It was just after mid-day, and the troops had not once stopped their marching. That would soon change. Gilthoniel began to struggle. it was subtle at first, simply shifting her weary and worn limbs. The guards gave her a fleeting look, but she had settled back down, already tired. A few moments later Gilthoniel had shifted to the left, causing herself to rest her head against the shoulder of the soldier fastened to that arm. The other soldier pulled against the strain, and Gilthoniel leaned into that force. The soldiers worked to get her upright again, and Gilthoniel allowed them to do so, though a few moments later she began her weak struggling again. A stop was called at the edge of a forest, and preperations were made for the mid-day meal. Her arms and legs were untied and she was lifted off her horse. One of the soldiers took her in his arms and carried her towards the spot where Alasdir had sat down with his generals. Gilthoniel was still half-asleep as the soldier settled her against the trunk of a tree, right beside Alasdir. They spent just over two hours in this spot before Alasdir gave the signal to begin breaking camp. When the guards came for Gilthoniel, Alasdir motioned them away, then stood and went to his horse. The queen had fallen asleep against the tree trunk, but was awakened as a guard lifted her onto the back of Alasdir's saddle and began to tie her legs to his. her arms were left free this time, but she did not care. The little food she had been fed was drugged, and she was soon asleep against Alasdir's back.
The queen woke to bright light shining on her face. She was sore, and she was not laying in a very comfortable position. Once she had blinked the sleep from her eyes, Gilthoniel looked about the room she was in and was shocked- she recognized every feature. "Have a good sleep?" she heard, a savage voice coming from the right. She turned her head and grimaced, more from pain than from the sight of who stood beside the bed. She heard her frail voice reply, "If it hadn't been for the drugs, I might have." Alasdir simply shrugged and sat on the side of the bed, looking the queen over. "It seems only yesterday..." he began in a low growl. Gilthoniel looked away in disgust. "Only yesterday that you resided in this place. But much time has passed." He laid a hand on her arm, almost lovingly. "And now I have you back." The queen narrowed her eyes as she looked at her captor once more. "And it was as simple this time as it was the last." Gilthoniel studied the towering form beside her, then spoke. "The it is true? I am back in this desolate wasteland?" An acrid taste filed her mouth as she remembered those days. "Yes Luinil. Welcome back. Welcome to Rendor."
A moan escaped her lips as feeling came back to her. The queen refused to open her eyes, and was reluctant to let sounds back into her mind. The first thing she heard was singing, and the occasional name 'Luinil,' which made Gilthoniel open her eyes slightly. The room was rather forsaken and filthy, with the smell of blood- both fresh and dried- and a slight medicinal undertone. After a few shaky breaths, she opened her eys wider, and tried to see in the dim light. "You bring out the best in him," a warm voice said, sarcasm dripping from the words. "You always have." Gilthoniel coughed, tasting blood, and more feeling entered her body. Pain tore through her and she gasped as she tried to sit up. The voice spoke again, and Gilthoniel detected an accent she hadn't noticed before. "It would be bset if you didn't move, Luinil," the tender voice said, then answered the question that had come to the queen's mind, "yes, I know who you are." A dwarfish form stepped closer and Gilthoniel noted fawn coloured skin paired with jade eyes and onyx-black hair. A smile graced the woman's features as she met Gilthoniel's gaze. "Do you remember who I am?" Without thinking, Gilthoniel nodded and replied, "Galia, my friend." The dwarf smiled again and looked over Gilthoninel's body. "it looks as though he took out every ounce of anger on you. I don't think he's ever beaten anyone- not even you- this badly before." As Galia spoke, memory returned to Gilthoniel. "He wasn't alone. There were at least a dozen soldiers with him. Do you know what he wants?" Galia simply shook her head, so Gilthoniel told her. "My children. My kingdom. My life. I do not know how and when he plans to take the latter... But I have a feeling it will be soon." As she spoke, the door to the left of the queen opened, revealing Alasdir. He gave one look at Galia and she fled, leaving Gilthoniel alone with him. "Ah, I see that you are awake." He advanced towards Gilthoniel, and she regretted letting feeling back into her body.

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The Story- War, Part II
The queen had a fever. She had lost too much blood, and she had already been in a weakened state before being brought here. Gilthoniel slept, though not comfortably, in the oversized bed in the cave. The man stood close by, at all times, and the guards remained along the edges of the cave, each with a sword drawn and an eye on the prisoner. Gilthoniel moaned softly, her voice full of pain, as she rolled onto her back. She was sweating, but it was a cold sweat. Her head tossed, as if she was having a nightmare, but she was no longer asleep. Memories of the man kept coming to her, and they were all unpleasant, save for one. She lay on a pile of furs that had been placed on the bed, but the man soon came and moved her, and Gilthoniel unconsciously pulled away from his touch, though he held her firmly. She soon felt the cold stone against her skin, but it was not enough.
Three days had passed since the man had brought her here. The Healer had gotten to her two days ago, and she was well again, in a way. The man had refused to let the Healer close up the wound on her shoulder, but he had let it be put into a sling and bound against her body. And since the Healer left, she had acquired more wounds. Her clothes were no more than mere rags, soaked in her own blood. Her back had seen the edge of a whip many times, and the wounds bleed freely. Her arms and legs were covered in massive bruises, and there were many cuts to them, that each looked like a dagger had slowly been pulled across the skin. Gilthoniel ignored all of her wounds, having gotten used to them many thousands of years ago. She now stood beside the bed, trying to workout her muscles; ready for the next time he would return. Her eyes roamed around the room, settling on each pair of guards as she did. When her gaze reached the exit of the cave, she shuddered, and quickly looked away. He stood there smiling at her, but it was not a friendly smile. "It is of no use," he told her, taking rather large steps towards her until he stood with his hand on her shoulder. She tried to pull away, but he threw her to the ground, and a pair of guards stood over her with their sword tips not an inch from her heart. Her hand began to glow with a white light, then everything passed in a blur.
"Wake up Gilthoniel..." a voice called, as if far away. Something inside of her told her not to answer the call, to act as if she had not heard the summons. A sharp pain in her side caused her eyes to fly open. She began to cough, and her spittle was tinged red with blood. She refused to cry out, no matter how she was tormented. She had to be strong for her people. And something inside her said that she'd been here for a fortnight, yet she was till alive. He didn't wish to kill her. There was something else he wanted. And another internal cloak told her it had only been four days at the Crossroads so she would not be dearly missed, unless someone from her would had gone to them. Another boot connected with her ribs, and one to her elbow. Tears flowed down her cheeks, but Gilthoniel remained silent.

Darkness engulfed the cave. For the first time since she had been here, Gilthoniel had been left alone in the cave, but there were no torches. The guards were all gone, and the man was as well. But the had nothing to worry about. Even if she had some idea where she was and where she needed to go, Gilthoniel did not have the strength to leave the bed she had been so unceremoniously dropped onto. Even moving her head to the side was painful. She kept her eyes closed, opening made her dizzy, and she felt sick. Her hand lay curled around one of the animal skins she lay on, the other was still bound to her body, though she thought one of the bones might be broken. She wondered why none of her scouts or spies had been here, and why none had told her who ruled this area. She forced herself to keep thinking, even to keeping moving when she could bear it. She did not know what would happen if she fell asleep now, and she wasn't too keen to find out.
Morning came, and a dim light shone through the entrance to the caves, but was soon disrupted by the shadows of many bodies. The man entered the cave again, with only four of his guards. Her went to the bed, lifted Gilthoniel off of it, and gently, almost loving, carried her outside. The sunlight hurt her eyes so badly that she sheltered her face against his chest, even as she pulled away from his touch. It took a very long time for her eyes to adjust to the light, but she was finally able to look around. They were in a small camp, full of the sorts of tents that soldiers used. Gilthoniel knew this area had been hostile, but there had been no sightings of soldiers, or movement along this front, so what had changed. Her answer was soon in front of her. The queen recognized three of her scouts, and perhaps a dozen of her spies. They all looked up at her in horror, though Gilthoniel could not understand why. There was a pile of skins laid beside a small raised platform, and the man gently laid Gilthoniel here. She looked at him, questions forming, though she refused to ask them. The queen raised herself on her elbows, ignoring the flashes of pain that rent her body. A few minutes later, she had pulled herself into a sitting position, resting her back against the platform. She was breathing heavily, and her eyes were closed again. She heard the soft rattle of chains and turned her head to look at her people. More than half of them had moved forward, as if trying to get to their queen, but they had been held back by chains, as well as a number of armed guards. Gilthoniel searched for the man, and quickly located him making his way towards the seat on the platform. For the first time in days, the queen spoke. "Alasdir," she spit, the name like venom on her tongue. He simply looked at her and smiled knowingly, then sat and looked at his prisoners. "Alasdir," she said again, her voice betraying her physical pain as she spoke. It hurt to speak, and she was sure that more than one of her ribs was broken. The man, actually the elf, in question looked down at the queen, then nodded towards her people. She now saw, for the first time, signs that they had each been tortured, though not to the extent that she had been. She could not let this pass. Her gaze locked to Alasdir's she demanded, "What is it you wish of me?"

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