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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Fan Art:
LOTR fan fiction: The Witch of Angmar - Part #19

SamJCharlton
Bree

Mar 11 2014, 11:14am

Post #1 of 9 (176 views)
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LOTR fan fiction: The Witch of Angmar - Part #19 Can't Post

A couple of days late - but hopefully worth the wait!

Great news - thanks to all of you who nominated THE WITCH OF ANGMAR for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards - the story has been listed as a finalist in the fan writing category! :-D

My epic fantasy novel, JOURNEY OF SHADOWS is also a finalist in the 'best novel' category. Fingers crossed - results will be out in mid-April!

Here's the link for the finalists: http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvNominations-2014.html

_______________________________________________________________________________________


The Witch of Angmar

Legacy of the Fellowship

Part Nineteen

The Witch of Angmar


The gigantic shadow fell across Rose. She scuttled backwards, still grasping the torch, her gaze riveted upon the figure that had stepped out from behind one of the pillars.

Rose’s breath caught when the flickering torchlight illuminated the creature before her. Terror caused her to stumble and she nearly dropped her precious torch.

The thing before her was huge, even bent double as it was. Long, naked, sinewy limbs protruded from the tattered remains of a black cloak. The clothing was so decayed that it appeared like a ravaged pelt, fluttering in the breeze that now whistled through the gallery.

The face of a cadaver, a visage that had never been human, stared at her; a maw of predator’s teeth opened wide in greeting as the creature grinned. Deep-set topaz eyes bored into Rose, gleaming with a feral intelligence.

Hands – skeletal claws with unnaturally long fingers, tipped in meat-hook talons – reached towards its intended victim, grasping.

“Greetings,” the ghoul spoke in a deep, raspy voice. “Long have I waited for a visitor. Long have I feasted on rats and insects in this forgotten hall. Today, I will dine on juicy flesh. Come.”

The spidery fingers beckoned. “Come to me, sweet one. If you run, I will catch you.”

Rose continued to back away from the ghoul, trembling with terror. Not knowing what else to do, she raised Sting. The blade, wavering before her, now glowed bright, casting the gallery in an eerie light. The spectre’s yellow gaze seized upon the sword; its eyes narrowed slightly.

“What do we have here?” it mused, “An elf-blade.”

Rose could not bring herself to respond. Terror had crushed her throat in a vice. Why was Sting glowing so? Was the creature before her a goblin of some kind? However, she knew goblins to be afraid of elf-blades – whereas this creature merely studied it with interest.

“Curious,” it hissed. “A female halfling, alone in my hall with an elf-blade. Who are you girl. Tell me before I feast on your sweet flesh.”

Rose shook her head, gritting her teeth. “I will tell you nothing,” she ground out. “I have business elsewhere. Let me pass.”

The ghoul laughed at that; a wheezing rattle in its skeletal chest that made it sound as if it was drawing its last breath.

“You’re mine halfling – and if you will not tell me who you are, I will waste no more words on you.”

With that, the ghoul lunged.

Despite that it was bent over, giving it a decrepit and frail appearance, the creature moved with frightening speed.

Rose screamed and scrambled backwards. She attempted to turn and run, but tripped in panic and sprawled to the ground. The torch flew out of her grip and rolled across the flagstone floor. Rose rolled onto her back, bringing Sting up to defend herself. The ghoul loomed above her, those clawed hands reaching down – and Rose screamed again.

It would have had her – she was certain of it – if someone had not come to her rescue.

A figure, small and lithe, sprung from the shadows. A sword slashed at the ghoul’s grasping arms and Rose’s attacker reared back in shock. It did not realise that another had entered its domain.

Rose scrambled backwards along the damp stone, attempting to get to her feet as Azil the goblin went after her attacker once more. The creature staggered back, hissing in rage.

Rose had no time to register surprise at Azil’s presence here. He had not saved her; only bought them both time. The goblin brandished an iron sword, only slightly larger than Sting.

“Hurry!” Azil shouted. “Get past it!”

Rose rolled to her feet and lunged for the torch that lay sputtering a few feet away. Then, she darted right, skirting the edge of the columns, in an attempt to do as Azil bid. A moment later, a small, sinewy form appeared at her shoulder. She caught a glimpse of the goblin’s yellow eyes, wide with fright, and knew they were far from safe.

A shriek suddenly echoed down the gallery, echoing off the ancient stone.

“You are both mine!”

“Run!” Azil hissed.

Once more, Rose obeyed without hesitation. Together, goblin and hobbit sprinted, shoulder-to-shoulder along the darkened gallery, in between the rows of towering columns. Behind them, a terrifying shadow rapidly closed the gap. It was as if they were pursued by a twister, a force of nature, rather than a living being. The breeze that had feathered against their skin earlier now turned into a roaring gale.

“There is no escape!” the ghoul keened. “I will have you!”

Yet hobbits and goblins are fleet creatures, both smaller and lighter than men. Rose and Azil ran as if Sauron himself pursued them. The columns flew by in a blur; and yet, the ghoul closed the gap. It ran in long, loping strides. Rose heard the rasp of its breath. Her pursuer was so close that she could feel it prickle the back of her neck.

Despair welled within her; they would never outrun it.

Up ahead, loomed a great stone archway. Azil and Rose were just a few paces from it, when Rose felt something grab hold of her cloak. The tearing sound of rending cloth followed before Rose was yanked backwards, off her feet. Rose let out a strangled cry and dropped the guttering torch.

The ghoul had grabbed hold of the hood of Rose’s cloak, and she hung from its claw as it swung her towards its gaping mouth.

“Let go of me!”

Rose gripped Sting’s hilt with both hands and lashed out at the sinewy arm above her head. The blade dug deep and the ghoul let out a terrible scream; a sound that nearly made Rose drop her weapon in fright. The creature did let go of her then, and Rose fell to the flagstones. Sting’s blade came free of the ghoul’s flesh with a strange sucking noise.

Eyes ablaze, the creature staggered back, clutching its arm.

“Elf-blade!” it wailed, “It burns!”

Not waiting for the ghoul to recover, Azil grabbed Rose under the armpits and hauled her to her feet. Without another word, the pair fled to the end of the gallery and disappeared through the archway.


***


The goblin guards came for them shortly after their daily meal of dry bread and gruel. Peri had been lying on his side, eyes closed, and his mind numb with despair, when the sound of heavy boots roused him.

He sat up and heard Salrean do the same, nearby.

Wordlessly, they sat and listened as the footsteps drew nearer. Then, a key grated in the lock and the heavy cell door swung inward. The low passageway outside was dimly lit by small clay cressets, yet both prisoners were unused to the light, after days of being locked up in the dark.

Peri turned his face away and covered his eyes with a hand.

“Time to meet the Lady of this fortress,” one of the goblin’s cackled, glee in its voice as it entered the cell and hauled Peri to his feet. “She is eager to make your acquaintance.”

Peri said nothing, allowing himself to be pulled upright. His limbs were stiff and sore and he stumbled when the guard dragged him out into the passage way. Moments later, another goblin ‘escorted’ Salrean out of the cell – shoving her so hard that she collided with the wall. Peri turned to his companion, his eyes watering as his vision adjusted.

Salrean’s face was gaunt, her eyes hollowed – yet in their depths Peri saw anger flicker. Even after days in that cell, they had not beaten her. Peri felt a surge of respect for the ranger; her strength awed him. The sight of her resolution gave him solace, and courage. Neither of them was beaten.

The goblins led them up through a network of narrow passages and twisting stairwells into the Keep of Carn Dûm. The further they climbed, the fresher the air became. Peri breathed deeply, relieved to be free of the damp foulness of the dungeons. He would rather die than return there.

Much of the Keep was in ruin. A cold wind breathed in through crumbling windows, revealing a dull sky outside. It felt as if winter had truly arrived here in the bleak north. The chill stung Peri’s face but he did not care; the fresh air and weak sunlight was a balm on his skin. They travelled through many lofty hallways, all of them deserted, stepping over fallen statues and navigating their way around piles of rubble from where some of the walls had caved in.
Peri could see that, even at its height, Carn Dûm had never been a warm, welcoming place. The fortress was made out of a dark, pitted stone and Peri shivered at the atmosphere; the evil that had built Carn Dûm, stone by stone, and now resided here once more, was palpable.

The goblins prodded and poked them with hard fingers, urging their prisoners on whenever their pace slowed.

Peri knew exactly where they were taking them, and wagered that Salrean did as well.

The Witch Tower of Carn Dûm.

Eventually they reached a vast archway of dark stone with a wide circular stairwell beyond. Peri glanced at Salrean, and she stared back at him before giving a barely perceptible nod. Their audience with the Witch of Angmar was just moments away.

Peri climbed the stairwell, the muscles in his calves and thighs screaming after days of inactivity. On the way up, they passed tiny windows; little more than narrow slits that let in shafts of watery sunlight. Unlike the rest of the fortress, the Witch Tower appeared to be in a good state of repair. There were signs of fresh masonry and mortar. The mistress of Carn Dûm obviously did not wish to reside in a ruin.

They reached the top of the stairwell and crossed a landing to where two more goblins, dressed in iron and leather armour, stood before a heavy oak door. These guards bore long spears and wore helmets that obscured all but the lower half of their faces. Peri noted that these two were bigger than the goblins he had seen until now; more muscular with a greenish tinge to their skin. He wondered if these were orcs.

“We bring the prisoners,” one of the goblins accompanying Peri and Salrean hissed. “Let us pass.”

The orc guards stepped to one side, and pulled the great doors open.

Peri’s heart hammered violently when the goblin behind him shoved him forward. “In you go, halfling. Our Lady awaits!”

Peri and Salrean entered a wide chamber with a high, flat roof. The same long, thin windows ringed the space and a silvery light illuminated the interior. It was sparsely furnished, with a heavy tapestry shielding the back of the chamber from view.

On a stone plinth to the right of the door sat the Red Book. However, Peri’s gaze did not rest upon the object that had caused him and Rose to leave the Shire and embark upon this doomed quest. Instead, his attention wholly focused on the two individuals standing in the centre of the chamber.

A tall, dark-haired woman and a heavy-set goblin.

Morwyn of Angmar and Targkok, the Goblin King.

The Witch of Angmar was not what Peri had expected. He had thought to see an old hag, bent and aged. Yet, the woman before him was tall, statuesque and ageless in appearance. She was dressed in black robes, made of satin and silk, her fingers sparkling with garnets. On her feet she wore jewelled slippers and about her neck a glittering obsidian necklace. She was not beautiful, for her features were too harsh, her bone-structure too angular and jutting. Yet, her hair was thick and shiny, falling in a straight, dark curtain about her shoulders, without a streak of white in it. On her head she wore a simple iron crown.

It was not the face of evil – yet Peri knew that wickedness did not always show itself at first glance. He gazed into the woman’s dark eyes, and felt his body go cold, as if he had stepped up to the neck in a frozen pond. She had a pitiless gaze and when she smiled at him, there was not a shred of warmth there.

“Pericles Took and Salrean of Farnost,” Morwyn had a soft voice that slid across the still chamber like a caress. “Welcome.”

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


elaen32
Gondor


Mar 11 2014, 11:47am

Post #2 of 9 (92 views)
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Congratulations on the nomination Sam! [In reply to] Can't Post

Fingers crossed for April.....
And thanks for another great chapterSmile


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

Mar 11 2014, 12:00pm

Post #3 of 9 (101 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Much appreciated. Cool

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


KasDel
Rivendell


Mar 11 2014, 4:16pm

Post #4 of 9 (88 views)
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Good luck in the nominations Sam [In reply to] Can't Post

I love it...I love it...I love it...!
I had a hunch Azil would return. But I'll almost bet he has an ulterior motive tucked away!
This is GOOD!!!


Eddie

KasDel the Last

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


SamJCharlton
Bree

Mar 11 2014, 4:47pm

Post #5 of 9 (100 views)
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Great to hear [In reply to] Can't Post

you are enjoying the story as we near the climax! A lot of loose ends to tie up! Wink

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


Fili-ingFine
The Shire

Mar 12 2014, 11:31am

Post #6 of 9 (77 views)
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Another great chapter... [In reply to] Can't Post

And best wishes in the contest! Smile


SamJCharlton
Bree

Mar 12 2014, 11:48am

Post #7 of 9 (88 views)
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Thanks Fili-ingFine! [In reply to] Can't Post

Cool

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


nandorin elf
Bree


Mar 22 2014, 12:21am

Post #8 of 9 (63 views)
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Awesome [In reply to] Can't Post

Another great chapter.
I'd fallen behind (life's been crazy), but I devoured the last few chapters.
What was that thing in the gallery?! *shudder* I'm still suspicious of Azil. I hope Rose doesn't trust him too far.
Looking forward to the next chapter. And best of luck with the awards.


SamJCharlton
Bree

Mar 22 2014, 7:13am

Post #9 of 9 (113 views)
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Great to hear you're still following the story! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your comments. The next chapter is coming soon! Cool

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

 
 

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