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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Fan Art:
LOTR fan fiction: The Witch of Angmar - Part #18

SamJCharlton
Bree

Feb 21 2014, 11:52am

Post #1 of 5 (152 views)
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LOTR fan fiction: The Witch of Angmar - Part #18 Can't Post

The Witch of Angmar

Legacy of the Fellowship

Part Eighteen

The Dungeons of Carn Dûm


It was dark and damp inside the cell. A deep chill – one that came from the absence of sunlight, year after year – permeated the stone. Peri sat, his knees pulled up against his chest, staring into the darkness. He was sitting on his folded cloak, in an effort to make himself more comfortable; yet the fetid, sunless cell was starting to erode his endurance.

This was the end of their journey. After a terrifying trek north, whipped and menaced by Morwyn’s servants, the sight of Carn Dûm had made Peri’s step falter. Its dark towers loomed against a backdrop of barren mountainside and pale sky. He would have fallen if Salrean had not been there to grab hold of his arm and keep him moving. The hillmen had herded them in to the base of the fortress, but had not taken them before the Witch of Angmar as Salrean had predicted. Instead, they had dragged their prisoners deep underground, down endless moss-covered stone steps to this vile, airless dungeon.

Peri had lost track of time since their arrival at Carn Dûm. At least four meals had passed, although the time between them was long enough for hunger to twist their stomachs cruelly. The food the goblin guards brought was barely palatable: hard, coarse bread that stuck in their throats, and foul tasting gruel and water that tasted of iron and mould. Yet, Salrean and Peri were so hungry that they ate it without complaint.

Perhaps she will leave us here to rot, Peri thought; despair consuming him. I will never see daylight again.

“Peri,” Salrean’s voice intruded upon his dark thoughts. “You have not spoken in a while – are you well?”

“Not really,” Peri replied, closing his eyes and resting his forehead on his knees. “Much longer in this place and I will go mad.”

Peri heard a noise beside him as Salrean inched closer to him. A moment later, he felt her arm settle around his shoulders.

“I am sorry, Peri,” she said, her voice laced with sadness. “This is all my doing. I should never have agreed to my father’s plan.”

“‘Tis too late for regrets now,” Peri replied, leaning against her. The warmth and solace the simple contact brought made his eyes sting with tears. “We all knew the risks.”

Salrean squeezed her arm around him tighter in response. “I know,” her voice was barely above a whisper. “I just wish that I had not been so eager to please my father. Ethorn was right – he is unpleasable. It’s the Red Book my father wants, and he would go to any lengths to get it.”

“He would not send you into danger if he didn’t think there was hope,” Peri replied. “I agree that he is ruthless and ambitious – but you are still his daughter. If you do not return to Farnost, he will grieve.”

“Perhaps,” bitterness tinged Salrean’s voice. “Yet, these days in the darkness have made me realize things that I had not wished to see before. If we survive this, if we see daylight again, I will no longer do my father’s bidding without question. The days of acting as his puppet have ended.”


***


Rose heaved the iron lid open and peered down into the inky depths beyond. Suddenly, she did not wish to go a step further. She would have preferred to stay out here, in the open air.

Yet, Salrean and Peri were inside the Witch of Angmar’s lair – and remaining here would not help them.

Wishing she had a torch to light her way, her stomach knotted in dread, Rose sat down at the edge of the trap door and lowered herself gingerly down into the darkness. Her feet reached the rungs of an iron ladder and she gripped onto it as she climbed down under the earth.

The open trap door above cast a little light for the first few feet, before darkness swallowed her. Down she climbed, at least ten yards, before she stepped onto a cold stone floor. Glancing up, Rose took one last look at the pale window of light above and struggled to calm her fears.

She had never liked the darkness. If only Azil were here, she would not feel so alone – so frightened.

Steadying her breathing, Rose turned then and unsheathed Sting from its scabbard. The blade was dark, telling her that there were no goblins about. Yet, although this knowledge was welcome in one sense, she found herself wishing the blade glowed brightly. At least, she could have used Sting’s glow to find her way in the darkness.

Rose began to walk, waving Sting in front of her as she did so, in an effort to prevent herself from colliding with any objects.

After a few steps, the blade clanged dully against stone and, reaching out, Rose discovered a damp, stone wall. Keeping Sting held tightly in her right hand, she felt her way along the wall with her left. After a few more steps, the floor started to slope downwards.

Although the blackness was impenetrable, Rose realized that she was in a long stone tunnel that stretched down into the roots of the mountain under Carn Dûm. Glad of her silent Hobbit feet, which barely made a sound as she journeyed further away from the secret way in, she focused on keeping her breathing steady and letting her senses of hearing, touch and smell compensate for the fact that she was now travelling blind.

The further she journeyed, the steeper the corridor became. The dread which Rose had managed to control initially, surfaced once more. How much further would she have to travel down before she could claw her way back to the surface?

Eventually, however, the long corridor came to an end.

The wall that Rose had felt her way along, fell back and she stepped gingerly down onto a set of worn steps. Before her, for the first time since climbing down into the tunnel, there was a little light here – for she stood on the edge of a wide cavern and a subterranean lake. A weak shaft of light, full of drifting dust motes, pierced the darkness from high above. The light illuminated the cavern – revealing the conical stalactites that hung from the high roof, and the dark surface of the lake in its centre.

Blinking like a mole surfacing from its burrow, Rose gazed around the cavern. A narrow path led around the rim of the lake, and on the cavern walls she could see numerous tunnel entrances, like the one she had just emerged from. If she ever made it back here, after saving her friends, she would need to remember which tunnel led to the secret entrance. Rose paused for a moment, and dug into the small leather pack she carried on her back, pulling out a woollen scarf. Her mother had knitted it, three years earlier; it was one of Rose’s favourite items of clothing and she was loath to leave it behind. Yet, she had nothing else to use as a marker.

She knelt and wrapped the scarf around one of the many stones littering the floor of the cavern, before placing it to the left of the tunnel she had just exited.
I will make it back here, she told herself. We all will.

Rose descended the steps to the path ringing the lake.

She did not like the look of that lake – it was too dark and still – and she imagined all manner of foul creatures lurking beneath its black surface. As such, she was careful to make as little noise as possible as she skirted the water’s edge.

However, as disquieting as this cavern was, there was a greater issue that drew Rose’s attention – one that made her heart start to race and her mouth go dry with fear.

There were at least a dozen entrances along the cavern wall. Which one should she take?

There was no way to know. Each tunnel entrance looked identical – there were no markers or signs. Rose needed to get into the base of the fortress, from where she could make her way to the Witch’s Tower. Yet, these tunnels could lead anywhere.

She padded along the path, pausing at each entrance a moment before continuing. Reaching the far edge of the cavern, she then turned and retraced her steps.

She had no choice – she would just have to choose one of the tunnels and hope for the best.

You can always return here and take another path, she told herself, provided that the tunnel you choose does not lead to certain death.

Rose stopped at the third last tunnel from the far end of the cavern and took a deep breath.

She would take this one.

Glancing back at the subterranean lake that rippled slightly as a breeze from one of the tunnels caressed its surface, Rose squared her shoulders and climbed the steps to the tunnel.

Inside, she stepped into pitch black once more. She did not like the smothering darkness but this time managed to suppress her panic. As before, she made her way along the tunnel using her left hand as a guide along the wall, and waving Sting in the darkness with her right.

To her relief, the tunnel sloped upwards immediately. Finally, she was heading back towards the sunlight.

Rose climbed for a long while before the tunnel levelled out. When she reached its end, her legs were heavy with fatigue. She leant for a while against the chill wall, recovering from the climb, before taking a measured couple of sips from her rapidly emptying water bladder.

I should have refilled it in the lake, she thought – before realizing that it was probably a good thing she had not. Best not disturb whatever lives in that place.

Now that the tunnel had ended, Rose felt her way around the surrounding wall, realising that she was in a wider space. Her flagging spirits lifted when her fingers fastened around the handle of a wooden torch that hung from a wall bracket.

Grinning in the darkness, Rose removed the torch from the bracket and fumbled in her pockets for the flint that she always carried. She struck the flint against the wall and, eventually, managed to light the tallow torch. Tender flames flickered to life, suddenly illuminating her surroundings in a warm, golden glow.

Rose looked around her, and saw that she stood on the edge of a great stone gallery. A number of unlit torches hung from the walls, lining a long column of massive pillars that stretched ahead of her. She set off between the rows of pillars, grateful for the torch that now lit her way.

Rose had been walking for a short while, when Sting started to glow – it was very faint, but the eerie blue was unmistakable. The sight did not frighten Rose as much as in the past, for if Sting had awoken then perhaps this was the right tunnel after all. Yet, she still gripped her sword’s hilt tightly at the sight of it.

Rose slowed her step, her gaze darting around her.

She had only travelled a few yards further when a sound made her skid to a halt. A strange whispering echoed down the empty gallery, and moments later a chill breeze ruffled Rose’s hair.

What was that?

She was still standing there, trying to decide whether she should continue, when a huge shadow, at least twice the size of a man, detached itself from behind one of the pillars. The whispering echoed towards her once more and Rose felt her blood run cold.

Barandur had warned her that many dangers lurked in the tunnels under Carn Dûm. She had seen the haunted look in the seer’s eyes when he had spoken of it. She suddenly wished she had taken more notice. She wished they had questioned him about it.

Rose stepped hurriedly backwards, readying herself to turn and flee – her gaze riveted on the looming figure that stepped out into the torchlight.

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'


KasDel
Rivendell


Feb 21 2014, 5:35pm

Post #2 of 5 (71 views)
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Very good Sam! [In reply to] Can't Post

I am wondering if we get to see more of our 'foot-pad' orc Azil again? I can envision him turning into a 'good' guy even if by accident.

Eddie

KasDel the Last

"Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." Gildor


SamJCharlton
Bree

Feb 21 2014, 5:37pm

Post #3 of 5 (64 views)
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Thanks Eddie - you're not wrong about Azil... [In reply to] Can't Post

We shall see him again - and soon! :-)

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'


elaen32
Gondor


Feb 21 2014, 10:49pm

Post #4 of 5 (84 views)
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Aww you can't end it there! [In reply to] Can't Post

We wants to know what happens next precious!Angelic


Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in April. Happy writing!



SamJCharlton
Bree

Feb 22 2014, 7:13am

Post #5 of 5 (125 views)
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Patience [In reply to] Can't Post

My precious! Wink

'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'

 
 

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