Shadow Song chapter 8

"Gandalf! I think something is following us—there are eyes in the dark." Frodo whispered urgently to the wizard.

"Yes, my dear Frodo, there is. He has followed us for several days, and on several occasions I have had to remind our most… unusual… companion not to kill him." Gandalf looked pointedly at me. I stuck my tongue out at him. He frowned at me, and it was comical enough that I laughed as I loped ahead.

We were almost to the main cavern of Dwarrowdelf, the dwarf city, and I could feel each stirring in the deep caverns, as goblins, orcs, trolls and something far larger moved through the earth. My skin shivered on my shoulders at the thought of a possible battle: I knew exactly where to find a suitable weapon for range fighting, and if I could locate a sword or elvish scimitar or even a good staff, I would be set to burn some excess energy. I bared my teeth in a grin, accidently slicing my lip on the serrated edges of the four long canines—it had been a fair while since I had last worn this sadistic expression. Just four thousand years or so.

Upon entering the massive cavern, I had the unnerving feeling of being small. That was one of my few weaknesses: I don't take well to domination of any sort. Old insecurities awoke in me, and I folded myself into the niche by the door. Even as I curled myself into as tight a ball as I could manage, I remembered. Other NightSong children taunting my brother for his feminine looks, and his sorrow and anger being transferred to me. Being taken captive as an Elfling and being tortured until I bent to Iblith's will. The terrible pain of the many deaths I suffered at his hands (yes, our bodies will heal even after death, provided that there is enough Fae energy in them.). I felt tears on my legs and belly, but when I sniffed the air, I smelled not the icy metallic tang of NightSong tears but the sickly sweet scent of my own blood.

Startled, I uncurled myself and, in order to use enough energy to see for a few seconds, I teleported to one of the shafts of moonlight. My eyesight came back even as I murmured a prayer of forgiveness to Aulë. I saw the glittering lavender blue streaks on my fingers. Confusion welled up inside of me—what was wrong with me? I had never heard of this happening to a NightSong Elf. I had never heard of this happening to a wolf, either. Only humans, and then rarely. I was completely unsure of what was happening to me, a wild tangle of negative emotions swirling inside of me, horror and confusion and dreadful nostalgia being only a part of them. Even as my sight faded back to silver and red and orange, fresh bloody tears ran over my cheekbones.

I swear, I'm not emotional. Ever. But I was then. My hands were shaky, my knees so weak that I had to sit down or risk falling. The muscles in my back were shivering as though I were cold, though the air was pleasantly warm. I felt somewhat sick.

Eventually, the fellowship arrived, and apparently decided to pause for rest. The moon had long since moved to the other side of the mountain, and I was invisible to them, in the pitch dark. I could see Legolas keeping an ear out for my approach, though he knew not where I was. Time had no meaning anymore, that is to say that I could not accurately track it's passing through my shock, but it seemed to take them a while to notice that something was wrong.

Third person POV

"Gandalf, what is that scent?" Legolas looked to the wizard from his place in the alcove where I had hidden from the huge room. "It smells like a dying corpse flower." The wizard glanced around and tested the air with his nose.

"I smell nothing," was his answer.

"Come over here, then—it is strong enough that even you should be able to detect it." Legolas responded, and the wizard rose to join him near the wall. He bent his great grey beard towards Legolas' hole. The Elf slipped out so that his own forest scent would not mask the curious odour. As he scuttled forward, his slender fingers brushed through something sticky, like evergreen pitch. He raised his fingers to his nose and sniffed delicately… and near about fell over with shock, for he recognised the deathly scent as the luminescent blood that coursed through Raksha's veins. A dreadful worry for his friend sank claws into his heart.

"Never mind, Gandalf. I have found the source." He held his hand closer to the wizards glowing staff, and the blue light reflected off the purple streaks on his fingers. "It's Raksha's blood."

"Oh, dear. Something must have happened. Does anyone know where Raksha is?" Gandalf spoke the last part to the rest of the company. Each shook their head, with murmurs of 'no, I don't, do you?'

Raksha had finally managed to calm herself into a state of numbness, so she managed to make a sort of grunting sound that could have meant 'I'm here', or 'come again?'. In the large, echoing chamber, even Gimli the dwarf heard it. Legolas zeroed in on the faint sound and quickly leaped off into the darkness. Aragorn and Boromir both stood to follow, but the elf disappeared as soon as he left Gandalf's circle of light. The wizard himself stepped out slowly, as of yet still unsure of the blonde elf's location in the dark.

About ten paces from their resting place by the door, the wizard started to hear faint muttering and hissing whispers. At fifteen paces, the remaining company could see two opposite shapes in the darkness ahead, like yin and yang. Legolas was on his knees with his hand on Raksha's shoulder, crooning softly in Sindarin. The black skinned elf replied in that weird language that no one from Arda could emulate, staring straight ahead, unblinking. Legolas shook her gently, trying to make her look into his eyes, but she barely seemed to notice his presence.

"Raksha! Tell me what's wrong!" the Sindarin elf tapped her hollow looking cheek with his hand, finally getting a response. Of a sort.

"Nothing," her tone was flat as she spoke the words in Sindarin. "I am unharmed." He was relieved that she was finally speaking his language, and that she was physically fine. The men and wizard and all four hobbits hung back quietly, sensing that it was not their place to intervene. Elves would be elves, and mortals would do well to keep to their own business.

Aragorn's POV

Seeing the two elves kneeling at the base of the massive pillar, I knew that I would not be necessary, or wanted.

A shiver ran up my spine like icy fingers as the glassy, blank copper eyes stared unfocusedly in our direction. Raksha's ears were droopy and limp looking, and were it not for her totally alien appearance, I would have felt a heavy wave of pity for her. As it was, I was only marginally sorry for her: I did not know her well enough to really feel much else.

Knowing that Legolas would eventually find out what was wrong, I returned to our bags and sat down to wait. Annoyance flared in my chest: so far, the wolf—Elf—Thing, was more trouble than she was worth. At least we don't have to feed it, was all I could think before I let myself sleep.

Third person POV

The coming day found the fellowship trudging through the darkness if the lower tunnels, towards the bridge of Kazhad Dum, and their freedom. With goblins, orcs, and a balrog on their tails, and the most dangerous among them missing down a long tunnel that lead back the way they had come, even the older and stronger elf felt terror gripping his heart. Gandalf lead them unfailingly downwards, and it was with great relief that the nine, minus Raksha, finally reached the stair that led to the bridge shelf. The pursuing balrog's footsteps, each one a minor earthquake, caused the stairs to collapse and break, nearly sending Pippin into a four hundred meter free fall. Even as Gimli expressed how he felt about being thrown, the stairs behind collapsed, and Frodo and Aragorn were stranded on a swaying island of stone. Legolas beckoned urgently for them to jump, but the swaying motion made them unsteady, and Aragorn refused to take that risk. Instead, he threw his body weight against the edge of the crumbling stair pillar, and waited for it to tip closer before he grabbed Frodo and leaped. Legolas steadied him. And the three took off after the dwarf, man, wizard and hobbits.

Finally at the bottom, Gandalf ushered everyone past him and onto the bridge, doing a quick head count. One, two, three…seven eight and nine… where's ten? He looked for Raksha, not really expecting to see her, especially not in this elemental darkness where she was so at home. But even as he crossed to the middle of the bridge, and the balrog rounded the corner, a tall figure could be seen loping calmly along near the edge of the bottomless chasm. Her floor length silver hair fluttered out behind her, and Gandalf could perceive the wickedly long fangs that she bared in an angry, rippling snarl. Her coal black skin seemed to shine with the light of the Eldar, and her heavily slanted eyes were open and alert. At her growl, the balrog turned to her. His head was half as big as she was, and it figured that the deathly skinny black creature would not be much of a threat. His target was the fellowship, and the little insect was in his way. Gandalf watched in mounting horror as the great winged beast swing its flaming whip at her. Just before the moment of fatal contact, Raksha seemed to freeze, standing as still as though she were made of stone. Then the three pronged whip struck—and passed right through the illusion. With a grunt of confusion, the less than clever creature looked at his whip with surprise: he was good!

Then there was a sound behind it, a deep, echoing roar that the balrog had never encountered before: the roar of a Pyrosaur, a flaming dinosaur, much akin to T-rex, which was definitely not native to Arda. The major differences being that the Pyrosaur was covered in flames, and many times larger than tyrannosaurus rex. This creature was new, and the balrog knew that it would be hard pressed to throw this particular enemy into the pit, seeing as it was many times larger than the balrog. A battle of epic proportions was about to take place, and they all knew it. Everyone but Raksha looked frightened of the Pyrosaur, including Gandalf.

Raksha dissolved herself into nothing and reappeared right next to the wizard on the narrow bridge and pulled him backwards. But a voice in her head, loud and clear as the darkness that was held at bay by the flaming monsters, told her that if she continued, fate would change in this world, key events would never come about, and the entire world would fall to darkness. Hearing the words spoken to her in MindSpeech, she knew that it was Aulë, lord of the earth, and the most accepting of the Valar. She dematerialized again, reappearing at the other side, right behind Boromir.

"Come!" she cried, and all eight startled quite badly. "Come, we must hurry." Even as they began moving away, Frodo cried, "Gandalf!" and strained against Raksha's skeletal hand against his shoulders. The balrog, seeing its original prey escaping, kicked mightily against the Pyrosaur and rounded on Gandalf.

"YOU SHAL NOT PASS!" Gandalf hollered, and Raksha instantly turned her ears down to help mute it. There was enough noise without people screaming their heads off.

The balrog struck, the bridge crumbled, and it was over.

"Run, you fools." Gandalf gasped, even as he was pulled over the edge.

There was a moment of shocked silence, then the crying and wailing started. To make matters worse for Raksha, her Pyrosaur hatchling started complaining of bruised ribs and an empty belly, tipping its huge square head up to howl like a wolf. Raksha knew it would be a long time before her ears stopped ringing.

Using MindSpeech, Raksha told the baby that it could return to the Otherworld, and instantly it disappeared. Then came the task of getting everyone out of the caves before the orcs and goblins found a way around the chasm. To her surprise, it was Boromir who helped her most. Everyone else had gone as numb as she had been earlier.

Outside, an hour later

"We must go," Aragorn said briskly, and Boromir gave him a dirty look.

"Just let them grieve, would you? They have been through much." He gestured to the puffy eyed hobbits. Behind him, Raksha chuffed, picking up Sam and twisting to place him on her back. She did the same with the other three, and each continued to cry wretchedly on each other's shoulders.

"They can grieve on my back on my back as we walk; Aragorn is right. There will be orcs swarming this place in a matter of hours." As she was back in her wolf form, only Boromir, Aragorn and Legolas could hear the sing-song words in their heads. Gimli grumbled morosely on his rock, and when the massive canine strode past, Legolas touched his shoulder gently to tell him that they were leaving.

"Lothlorien is only two days march from here; we should make it by dawn on the second day."

I feel like a bad person! I haven't updated in, like, two weeks, and the quality of my story has decreased dramatically as I move into unfamiliar territory. can you tell that I ran out of ideas?

And yes, the Pyrosaur was only a baby, and one that Raksha had befriended in the Otherworld.

My scanner is not working, so none of my pictures have been posted yet:( its really too bad...

Please review, as it means a lot to me and positive reinforcement is proven to improve quality in work. I am kind of sad: twenty eight and a half thousand words and only 16 reviews?


From now on: I will post whenever I finish a chapter—I will write at least two thousand words per chapter—I will have even less time to type, and will spend some time with a strange keyboard—I will ignore non-constructive reviews—I will ask for ideas and fun things to make characters do when I get bored of my train of thought.

So, there! Have a good day, if you're reading this in the daylight, and sweet dreams to my fellow night owls. Also, I still don't have a scanner, so anatomy pictures will have to be uploaded in a different way. D:

Edit: the chances of me updating this story in the current year are very low, as I have jumped fandoms to Star Trek. It may take a while for me to return from the deep of space and profound thoughts. Sorry.