By Matthew Rembold
The day grew dark, cold winds blew through the Misty Mountains, and a harsh snow fall began to descend upon a lone figure cloaked in a silver hood. Celebrían, the Lady of Rivendell, was walked through the Redhorn Pass with only her dagger and wits to protect her. She was aware of the evil which resided in the Misty Mountains, but she feared it not. Her husband, Elrond, had warned her of the Orcs and requested she take guards with her, but she denied his request, arguing that multiple elves passing over the Mountains would draw more attention than just one. She did not bother to prepare a horse, for she knew a journey such as this would have been far too treacherous for an animal of that nature. She walked alone, ignoring the harsh weather which stood against her. She thought only of the comforts of Lothlórien, the land that she traveled towards, and the land where her fair mother resided.
As the icy wind bore down upon her, she thought of her mother, Galadriel, and how much she longed to see her. It had been some time since she last visited her mother, far too much time she thought. She stepped lightly over the ever growing mounds of snow forming on the ground. She let her thoughts of Lothlórien consume her mind. She was so consumed by thought, that she almost did not sense the disturbance which moved in the snow near her.
Creatures not as light as her disturbed the snow which lay upon the ground. Whatever the creature was, it trudged slowly towards her, attempting to maintain its element of surprise. Though she could not it, she could sense its presence, feeling its movements though the Earth. Celebrían did not need to strain her bright elven eyes much to see past the outlines of hunched figures moving towards her. She knew that these creatures were none other than Orcs.
Suddenly, she heard the screech of an Orc from behind a nearby rock. A figure leaped from behind the rock, lunging itself towards her. Though the snow fall was thick, she could still see it’s wretched body flying towards her and she quickly side stepped the attack. As the Orc crashed to the ground, she spun, pulling out out her dagger as she went, and quickly stabbed down into the foul creatures back. She twisted the dagger even further into it, causing the wretched Orc to scream in agony before it succumbed to its wound.
As the dark blood spurt from the monster’s back, an arrow flew by Celebrían’s head. How her assailants were able to take aim and fire arrows in such a snow fall she did not know, but it must have meant they were close enough to see her. Three more Orcs made their presence known to her. A grave mistake on their parts. She saw their twisted outlines through the snow and took advantage of her light step to spring towards the Orcs, not being weighed down by the elements which hindered the movement of her attackers.
One of the creatures blindly fired an arrow at her, which she avoided with ease. She sliced her dagger through the bow of the one Once and plunged the dagger into its neck. Before the other two Orcs knew what was upon them, she leaped into the air, kicking one in its fowl head and decapitating the other. The final Orc crashed to the ground and tried to crawl away from the fierce elf, but her dagger found its fourth mark as she jammed it into the creatures head, killing it instantly.
She rose, pulling the dagger from her fresh kill. She began to clean blade of the dark blood when a new sound rung through her ears. Before she could react, an arrow had pierced her stomach. In the excitement of her encounter with her previous four attackers, two more Orcs had crept through the snow, both bearing bows and arrows. She had not sensed their presence in all the chaos of the battle and now paid the price for it. She attempted to move toward them, but the pain of the arrow was too great, there was something different in it. A poison she presumed. Despite this she powered forward, attempting to plunge her dagger into the new assailants, but the poison hindered her more than she realized. One Orc was able to easily maneuver around the stab of her dagger, producing a club from his belt. Before she could react, Celebrían watched as the monster swung its great club towards her head in great force. Darkness consumed her.
Elrond gripped the railing in front of him. He had to steady himself after witnessing what had just come to pass. He had been looking out over Rivendell when suddenly the image of his wife being attacked flashed before his eyes. Without a moments hesitation, he i summoned his sons, Elladan and Elrohir to his room. When they arrived, they instantly saw the trouble in their fathers face.
“Father, what it that disturbs you?” asked Elladan.
They both knew a vision had come to him. He had seen something terrible.
“Father, what is it that you have seen?” asked Elrohir.
“It is your mother.”
Both his sons grew anxious. They knew of the journey in which she had embarked in order to see her own mother in Lothlórien. They too had warned her of the dangers that resided in the Misty Mountains, but she was determined to leave.
“What of her?” they asked in unison.
“She has been attacked by a group of Orcs in the Redhorn Pass of the Misty Mountains. Wether she is alive or not I cannot say.”
These words hung in the air. Not one of the three elves spoke for some time as the concept of this terrible passing had simmered in all their minds. Elrond finally broke the uneasy silence.
“I have summoned you both with the request that will assist in finding her, whatever remains of her, and bring her home. Please my sons, the journey is treacherous, but your mother is in peril.”
“Father,” said Ellandan “Say no more, we do this task willingly and without hesitation. We shall go forth the moment we have prepared, we shall not take long.”
Roughly an hour later, Elrond was waiting with Arwen at the road leading out of Rivendell. Elrohir and Elladan approached them bearing swords and bows. They were prepared to hunt some Orc.
“Take care my sons, the roads away from Rivendell are no longer safe. Be wary of what you may find in your hunt” warned Elrond.
“Worry not father, we shall return with our mother, at any cost” responded Elrohir.
“Let us hope that cost is not one or both of your lives” said their father.
“Take care my brothers,” said Arwen with fear in her eyes, “what lies ahead is a treacherous path.”
They both nodded and bade their father and sister goodbye. They proceeded to run out from Rivendell.
Celebrían awoke to the foul stench of an Orc cave. When she opened her eyes, she thought she was blind, for it was too dark to see anything, even for her elven eyes. She attempted to move, but her arms and legs were bound by chains. A stinging sensation was present in her temple, indicating to her that she had suffered a wound from the Orc’s final blow. She suddenly heard the meaty patter of Orc feet, and in the distance, saw an orange glow.
The glow belonged to the fire of a torch held by the wretched Orc which had struck her earlier.
“Rise and shine, sweetums, we got some business to attend to!” said the foul creature in the common tongue.
“Why did you simply not kill me wretch? Why take me prisoner?” she asked as her eyes adjusted to the light coming towards her.
“To put it simply,” replied the Orc, “it’s not every day the boys and I get to capture an elf, and seeing as how thats the case, we figured it would be a waste to simply kill ya.”
“Foul creature, you will regret allowing me to live, I promise you, this aggression shall not end well for you” she responded with anger in her voice.
“Well after the hell you put my boys through just outside, I figure we deserved a little payback considering you took four Orc lives.”
He had finally made his way to her. He stood directly in front of her, his foul stench running up her nose.
“Step back from me creature! Come no closer or suffer the consequences!”
The Orc let out a terrible laughter.
“Sweetheart” he said, “you are in no position to be making remarks like that! Even so, I’m glad you’ve got so much energy left in ya. It’s gonna make whats coming next that much more enjoyable.
He placed his torch in a holder on the nearby wall and made his way over to a newly illuminated rack of weapons. He reached for a whip from rack, and uncoiled it. He turned Celebrían around so that her back was to him. He cracked the whip and gave one lash across her back, causing her to yell in pain.
“We’re gonna have some fun tonight princess.”
It was very late by the time Elrohir and Elladan reached the Redhorn Pass. The snow and wind had decreased in force now, making their journey less intense, but they now had only a pale moon to shine light upon the road before them. This did not hinder them much, for their sharp eyes both searched for clues which may lead them to the location of their mother. Their first clue was the discovery of the bodies of four Orcs, all of whom had been buried by the falling snow. They would have missed the corpses had it not been for the hand of one Orc, which was protruding from the snow. They found dagger wounds in three of the bodies, while the fourth was missing its head.
“Could this have been the work of our mother?” asked Elrohir.
“I do not see why not. I doubt she would have fallen without a struggle. This riddle no doubt brings us one step closer to her location.”
As they pondered upon what path to follow next, they suddenly both felt a disturbance. They were no longer alone. Creatures, most likely Orcs, were making their way towards the elves. In the territory of the Misty Mountain, it was not uncommon for the Orcs which resided there to set watchers. No doubt it was one of these guards which has seen the Elves and called for an attack upon them.
They armed themselves with their weapons, prepared for conflict. They felt the Orcs before they made a play. Two Orcs were moving in the deep snow, burrowing themselves underneath and attempting to make their way to a position for a better assault. The elves were ready for such an attack. When the Orcs finally leaped from behind the nearby rocks, the brothers were prepared. Both elves gracefully dodged the onslaught, leaving the Orcs to crash into the snow nearby. As they got on their feet, bearing crooked swords, the Orcs snarled at the Elves.
Elrohir retaliated first, jabbing his elvish blade toward one of the two Orcs. His sword collided with the crooked blade of the creature he attacked. The other Orc did not wait for Elladan to attack, chasing to leap towards him instead. Elladan once again avoided the Orc, pulling his sword out as he went and jamming it down into the Orc’s leg, pinning the creature to the floor. He pulled an arrow from his quiver and jammed it into the trapped Orcs eye, killing it instantly and stopping its cursed screaming. He was removing his sword from his fresh kill, when another Orc leaped in front of him from behind the rocks once again, bearing two crooked swords and preparing for combat.
Elrohir continued to clash his blade with the Orc’s before the creature lunged at him and shoved him to the ground. He lost hold of his blade as he crashed into the snow. He quickly kicked the oncoming Orc’s hand as hard as he could, causing its to drop its sword, narrowly missing Elorhir’s head as it landed. They grappled in the snow for a short while, before the Orc found his chance to kick Elrohir’s chest, knocking him back. The Orc attempted to crawl back to his sword, which stood erect in the snow, but Elrohir was too fast for it. He had sprung back to retrieve his own blade, and stopped the filthy creature in its tracks by slamming his sword down towards the Orc’s hand. He sliced three of crooked fingers from its vile right hand with this one swift stroke.
Elladan clashed with the Orc bearing two blades, taking care not to allow its second blade to pierce him. He dodged this way and that as the Orc blindly jabbed at him, and when he saw his opportunity, he thrust forward, impaling the monster’s chest with his blade. The Orc yelled in pain as Elladan withdrew his sword. It fell to its knees in agony. Elladan silenced the beast’s cries by separating its head from its body. He then turned to find his brother standing over the other Orc, which was now clutching its hand. Dark blood was spurting from where the monster’s fingers had once been.
“A valiant attempt from these creatures, but not good enough wouldn’t you say brother?” said Elrohir.
“Indeed brother, I would have expected more of a fight. Tell me wretch, why did more of your kind not come to your aid?”
“We are few in number elf slime. Especially since the elf lady from before cut down four of our best Orcs in combat. Blast her and her cursed dagger!” the Orc cried in disgust.
“Where is the elf lady you speak of? Answer now monster!” Elladan said as he positioned his sword at the creatures throat. It hissed at him.
“You’ll need to do better than that to get me to talk elf slime.”
“And so we shall” declared Elladan as he jammed the sword into the Orc’s leg and twisted the blade.
Celebrían had lost track of how long the Orc had been torturing her. The lashes on her back grew from one, to several. The creature felt that the whip was not good enough and produced a poisoned knife. He repeatedly slashed her arms and legs, stabbing her occasionally, taking care not to cut veins or to stab a vital organ. He wanted her to suffer, but not die. He occasionally took his free hand and proceeded to punch her in the face and stomache, causing her beautiful face to swell and bleed. When he grew tired of the cutting, stabbing, and punching, he jabbed the knife into her leg, causing her to yell out in great pain. He allowed it to remain there, causing poison to flow into her body. When he felt enough time had passed, he violently yanked the knife from her leg.
“Hope you’re enjoying this sweetheart, cause I’m not even half way through.”
She attempted to respond, but words failed her as she could not speak. She could hardly even see as the swelling in her face began to block her vision. She could barely see the Orc take his blade to the torch nearby and placed the tip in the heart of it, heating it.
“Things are about to heat up a bit love” he cackled as the knife began to glow with the orange heat. He made his way back towards her and placed the knife’s end on the exposed skin of her arm, burning her. She yelled in agony.
“Sounds like you like that sweetheart!” he yelled “Good! Get ready for more you elvish slime!”
He was preparing to jam the blade into her once again when suddenly he stood rigid. A horrible gurgling sound came from his wretched mouth. Celebrían could not see what had caused him to stop when suddenly, dark blood spurt from his mouth and onto her. The creature fell forward, an arrow lodged in the back of its head. She looked up and could barely make out the forms of her two sons running towards her from the end of the hall. She heard them yell for her, but she could not respond.
They were quick to undo her chains, and quickly picked her up and carried her from the cave of torture. As they ran, she could see the bodies of dead Orcs strewn throughout the floors of the passages of the cave. Before they reached the exit of the cursed place, Celebrían’s consciousness failed, and she allowed the darkness to take her as she lay in her sons arm.
Celebrían awoke with a start. Her surroundings seemed foreign to her after the harsh environment she had been in before. She lay in a soft white bed, the sheets cool to the touch. She felt bandages wrapped all across her body, dried blood caked in many of them. She was confused, unsure, and in pain. She had awoken so suddenly that she knew not where she was or how she had come to lay there. The swelling near her eyes had reduced, but she still had trouble seeing. It took the warm touch of the hand of her husband to finally calm her. Elrond had come as soon as she heard her struggling.
“My wife please remain calm, and do not speak, you have been wounded greatly by the cursed Orc’s blade, but you shall endure. Your wounds are extensive, but your sons returned you with enough time for healing to be done. There were several cuts across your body, as well as various puncture wounds, not the mention the harsh lashings across your back.”
All this she was aware of, yet Elrond still felt the need to remind her of the suffering which took place in the vile Orc cave.
“The Orc’s blade was, as you are well aware, poisoned. Of what effects this poison will have on your body I cannot say, but I was able to remove enough to ensure that it shall not kill you. I promise you sweet Celebrían, such a terrible journey again.”
All this overwhelmed Celebrían and she could do nothing but weep into her husband’s shoulder. He held her silently as she cried of the horrors that she had witnessed.
Weeks passed. Her wounds healed quickly, but her mind was not so fast. The horrors of the cave and the Orcs had left an imprint on her, Elrond saw this soon after she had regained control of her self after hours of weeping. For days she lay silent, not because of her injuries preventing her from speaking, but because she could not think of words to say. The torture had been extensive, her wounds assured Elrond of that. Even when the bloody bandages had been removed, many scars remained.
The poison of her body had been eradicated, but the poison of her mind remained. What remained in her caused her to hallucinate, causing her to have fits of fear and anxiety. She often imagined that she had been returned to the cave, faced with the vile Orc once more. The once brave and fierce Celebrían had been reduced to nothing more than a scared girl. These visions did pass, but the imprint they left on her was too great.
When she could walk on her own once more, she would often go to the quiet gardens of Rivendell and remained there for several hours with no one to accompany her. She spoke very little. Her mother and daughter could hardly bring forth two words from her mouth when they approached her.
When she finally did speak to Elrond, it was words he did not wish to hear.
“I wish to leave Middle-Earth and go to the Grey Havens” she said plainly.
“But my wife, why?” he said stunned. He knew why, but simply could not believe it.
“The horrors of these lands are why. I cannot bear the evil of this world any longer. I have no desire to have place in it any longer.”
“But Celebrían, there must be something that compels you to stay? What of your sons, young Arwen, or your mother? What of me?”
“I am sorry my love. I cannot reside here any longer. I saw both the evil of the Orcs, and the evil which lies within us. I saw the death my sons brought to the Orcs in that cave. I myself took the lives of four of those wretched creatures. There is no hope for any of us in this land any longer. I must depart and will do so with haste. I’m sorry my love. I cannot remain here. I cannot find the light in this world any longer.”
She left him with tears in her eyes.
Several days later, she solemnly boarded the boat to the Grey Havens in a cloak as silver as her own hair. She wore no emotion in her face as she saw her family watching her from the shore. Galadriel watched her daughter board, saddened by what had passed. She refused to show her emotion, but the scars which remained on her daughter’s body troubled her deeply. Arwen was crying into the shoulder of Elladan, who was also weeping for his mother. Elrohir kneeled near by, tears streaming down his face. The three children had hoped for better, but in their hearts, they all knew their mother was lost to them. They simply wish it did not need to be so. Elrond stood quietly behind them all. Only a single tear rolled down his face as the boat bearing his beloved wife embarked from the dock and disappeared into the sunset.
By Matthew Rembold