Disclaimer: I do not own J.R.R. Tolkien's LOTR.

"Black Speech"

AN: Sorry this chapter is so late. I had finals, then went camping and spent a week out-of-state visiting my bestie and celebrating her 30th. This chapter contains mature content including cursing, general killing and pillaging. Enjoy?

The Desecrated Village

"To live is to suffer; to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Daniel knew they wouldn't be staying long from the beginning. He traced his path back towards the elderly couple that had bestowed him with affection as they would a beloved grandchild. It was true that he had taken to this way of life better than Brennan. He was aware of the pain that his sister was going through every day while they lived in Middle-Earth. If was different for him though, he had less to lose and she had everything.

Brennan had friends and a promising career. She was smart, pretty, and could handle anything that came her way. What did he have that was worth anything back home? He had video games, virtual friends, and an ex-girlfriend that had cheated on him. Sometimes Daniel really did feel like a failure. Oh, he knew Brennan never meant to treat him like one, but he wanted so badly to make her proud and he just didn't know how. Back home he didn't have any worthwhile skills, but it was different here. Daniel never knew what it felt like to have parents; he was barely three when their parents died.

The elderly clothed, fed, and housed him. They worried for and took an interest in his thoughts and feelings. They cared about his wants, needs and desires. Coming from a source other than his sister, it was oddly pleasant. In some ways it was also relieving.

At least, he suspected they treated him as a family member. Daniel didn't really have much insight into that department, his only dealing with parents and grandparents coming from his brief run ins with his friends' families. And that wasn't too regular an occurrence. When he was younger he tried to avoid parents. He was invited over for dinner and to stay the night more times than he could count. Usually he declined; however, sometimes he stayed depending on the foster home he was in at the time. Some homes were better than others, and for the most part he was fortunate. It was difficult when his sister had been named his guardian, but also a relief. They fought all the time, but it was nice to fight, it meant she cared enough to get mad at him when he did something stupid, or when she was being neurotic. Besides, parents always looked at him with pity and he could tell they talked about the poor kids who lost their parents and had no willing relatives to take care of them. Their eyes were what bothered him most. He knew they meant well, but he just wanted to be treated like a normal kid. Nobody could see a normal kid when their guardian was an emancipated teenage girl.

Brennan was always the Mother and Sister, and it was damn hilarious when she tried to fulfill the Father role. He groaned remembering the sex talk she'd had with him when he was eight. That was the most humiliating experience for any kid, but having the talk with your teenage sister was beyond horrifying. The safe sex talk that followed when he was in junior high was even worse, if that was possible. There were some things that he didn't want his sister to know about; their respective sex lives being one of them. Unfortunately, he'd walked in on her once in bed with a boyfriend and well, there was a reason why he didn't have girls over when she was in the house. It was too embarrassing to even remember that particular incident…

Now there was something worthy of a sitcom. Actually the way things were turning out; their whole life could be some soap opera. He could picture it now…Two young children orphaned and struggling to make their way in the world. One young girl attempting to raise her rebellious younger brother only to be snatched away from the midst of their lives and dropped unceremoniously into Middle-Earth where they must face the perils or die…or something dramatic like that. Pausing in his steps he reconsidered. Ya, it had definitely turned into more of a fantasy action/adventure at this point.

What he told Brennan was true, she was a bitch. Nevertheless, she was his sister and he knew that no matter what she would do anything for him, because she loved him. He knew she did, since she was always concerned for him and telling him in a million little ways how important he was to her. He often wondered what would become of her should something happen to him, like it did to their parents? Would she be alright? For everything Brennan had, he knew most of it was superficial, or done for his sake. She was hanging by a thread in this world, and he would be a steady presence for her. It was his turn to be the strong one. He picked up his pace along the trail determined to be her anchor should she need it.

Daniel stopped suddenly mid step smelling smoke and seeing dark clouds rising in the direction he was heading. Panicking he feared the worst and ran towards the billowing clouds of smoke rising in the early dawning sky.

I screamed as the tall figures rushed from the bushes. One moment Daniel was consoling me and the next I was attacked by orcs. There were two of them; the largest one had deep reddish-brown skin and the other more of a darker green. The larger one grabbed me around my mid stomach and growled viciously as I kicked and screamed. Diana's mad barking reverberated through the area and she ran at us growling and snapping her teeth.

"Get off of me! Let me go!" I kicked the smaller orc in the gut as it neared me and it growled and clutched their stomach briefly in annoyance. "Daniel!" I tried yelling for him, but I knew it was a futile attempt at best. Daniel had indulged my pity party and left some time ago. I wish he hadn't now. The orc trapped my arms and lifted me while the other tried to grab my legs again.

They started yelling at each other but I couldn't understand them. It sounded vaguely like Black Speech, but other than knowing a few words and phrases I was out of luck.

"Grab her legs!"

The one behind me breathed in my ear. His nose pressed into my neck and I felt it inhale. It almost felt like he was smelling me. I recoiled as far as possible away from his face, wanting to desperately put some distance between the sharp teeth I knew all orcs possessed. Oh my Gods, were they going to eat me? I felt sick.

As I pulled away, doing my own bit of snarling I saw my Mother's necklace resting along the hollow of the monsters neck. That was my necklace! He had no business wearing it. This was the last straw. This damn place could rot in hell. I was never reading those gods be damned Tolkien books or watching any more of Peter Jackson's films. I was swearing it all off. No more cosplay, no more conventions and book signings or anything! I was going to go on the straight and narrow. No more fantasy even. No more freaking Harry Potter, or Doctor Who, nothing. I was going cold turkey and chucking it all out the fucking window. I was sick and tired of being some form of cosmic joke.

Adrenalin pumped through my veins and fueled my anger. "Give me my necklace back you ugly mother fucker!" Without any warning I lunged forward and grasped the necklace at his throat with my teeth and pulled. The chain broke and the necklace ripped from his neck. I tasted bits of skin and blood and felt the vile substance dribble down my chin.

The orc howled in clear pain and anger. I nearly broke free until it grasped me even more firmly.

"Fucking grab her legs!" The one holding me roared with renewed energy.

"I'm trying! We'd be better just knocking her head in."

"Diana!" I yelled desperately. Diana rushed to my aid and jumped the orc holding me and bit his leg fiercely. The orc grunted and winced but with one swift kick sent Diana flying through the air landing a few paces away.

"Diana!" She whimpered pitifully and struggled to rise.

Ok, my Mother's necklace was once thing, and now the bastard had hurt my dog. No one hurt my dog.

"Don't you touch my dog! You hurt my dog I'll fucking kill you, you bastard!" I felt a powerful surge of energy and saw red in my vision. I reared my head back and thrust it into the orc holding me and heard a satisfying crack and a resounding yell.

The smaller orc huffed and rushed forward and tried to grab my legs again. With a powerful thrust of my leg and core strength I threw my legs high into the air and wrapped my them around its neck. I brought the orcs neck in a choke hold wrapping it more securely in my grip by bringing it closer to my body. I trapped the orc between my thighs and started squeezing for all I was worth. The orc started gasping for breath and pulled at my legs with its claws. I winced as the sharp nails scraped against my legs and drew blood in desperation. I tried swinging my body back and forth to build momentum and finally I rocked us enough so we toppled over in one big heap.

Diana leapt upon us and bit the arm still loosely wrapped around my neck. The arms loosened and I unwrapped my legs from the other orcs neck. Knowing this was my chance I struggled to my feet trying to regain my sense of balance while the orcs were down.

Not even bothering to look back, I ran as fast as I could away from the stream, Diana fast on my heels. I spat my Mother's necklace into my hand and gazed at the broken chain and black blood covering it. The taste was foul in my mouth. I stumbled once but quickly recovered. As I forced my feet to keeping moving my only thoughts were of reaching Daniel and getting as far away from here as possible.

Narghaash slowly rose to his feet grasping his head. Sharn was gasping for breath besides him rubbing the abrasions formed by the female.

"Fucking female. Told you we shoulda knocked her head in first thing!" Sharn snarled angrily.

He glared back pressing his hand to the bite wound the woman had inflicted. It came away sticky with blood and he smirked. It wasn't serious, but it was an impressive bite considering human teeth were fairly blunt in comparison.

"What are you smirkin' 'bout? We just got bested by a human female! Dargum's goin' ta knock both our heads in and the fucking wizards going to skin us and our kin."

Narghaash growled harshly and Sharn quieted immediately. "I'm just sayin' we better get to her before the others do."

Narghaash snapped at Sharn angrily in a possessive gesture. Sharn raised her hands in a placating way with wide eyes. "What's gotten into you?"

"Nothin'. We'll go get the female now. There's still time," he grunted. Her eyes narrowed conspicuously and then widened in realization. Sighing Sharn shook her head in disbelief.

"Get your cock under control. She's not for you." Sharn stomped off the way the female had run muttering under her breath about male stupidity.

"Easier said," he mumbled to himself as Sharn grew farther away.

Looking down at his stiff member he growled low willing himself to calm. He hastily adjusted himself and followed after her. However, thoughts of the human woman's passionate defense and her scent remained.

As I neared the village a whole new wave of worry engulfed me. There was smoke in the air and I could see buildings consumed with flames. Ignoring the stitch burning in my side I forced more air into my lungs and practically flew the remaining distance to the village.

I came to a sudden halt avoiding a horse galloping madly past. The sudden stop threw off my momentum and I fell to the ground scraping my knees and palms against the course dirt. A second horse followed the first, and my eyes widened in disbelief. The poor creature was on fire. Diana was barking loudly and a rush of sounds and smells came to me all at once.

The smell of smoke was heavy in the air as was the putrid smell of things burning, what I could only assume was flesh. People were screaming and a man whom I had only met once or twice ran past me. I rushed to my feet and intercepted him. I had forgotten his name but I called out to him nonetheless and he did nothing but shove me back to the ground as he continued to run.

Fuck but that had hurt. That bastard. "You asshole!" I yelled at his retreating figure. Not that it mattered, he didn't even look back.

I really should have stayed on the ground because the moment I got to my knees someone tripped over me and we both fell in a tangle of limbs. This time the back of my head made contact with the ground. That had really hurt. I would have liked a minute to see straight, but the person was already trying to scramble away so I grabbed her quickly. Dirt covered her face and she was whimpering pitifully. I recognized her as Beth, a kind woman whom was always asking after my brother.

"What's going on? What happened?" I asked trying to meet her eyes that kept darting around in panic. I shook her fiercely and repeated myself in a harsher tone.

"Oo-orcss." She sputtered.

My eyes widened. I had to find my brother. "Daniel, have you seen my brother?"

She shook her head frantically from side to side. "No, I-ah!" In a sudden motion her blood splattered my face and she collapsed towards me. Shaking in astonishment, I moved Beth to the side and saw a crude arrow piercing her back. In sudden nausea I dry heaved violently until I managed to find something to throw up along with a fair amount of bile.

Beth slid from lap and my nails dug at the ground. I sat up wiping my mouth and moving away from Diana's wet nose. A sudden and horrifying roar sounded in the distance and my eyes immediately spotted two orcs run down a man and slice his stomach wide open with ease. The man howled in agony and clutched his intestines futilely.

I sat there frozen watching the orcs laugh over the ease and skill of their kill. One of them dug his hand into the man's stomach and produced a thick piece of bloodied intestine. Grotesquely, I watched as they feasted on his flesh.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing and my head reeled. It was out of a horror film. One thing was clear, I needed to get out of here before they saw me and decided I was next. Daniel, oh Gods I hoped he was alright. I tried to move my legs, but they remained immobile.

Move. Fucking move Brennan, get up! GET UP!

Picking myself up, I turned and fled. I risked a glance behind me and noticed that the two orcs were too involved in their meal to pay me any mind. Daniel would have gone home. He adored the elderly couple he was staying with and he would have gone to make sure they were safe. Wouldn't he? At least that's where I was hoping he went to. That is, if something else hadn't found him first. I prayed nothing had.

My legs were shaking with fatigue but I pushed them past the screams of those being slaughtered. I tried staying out of sight and stuck to the buildings. I looked around the corner and made a run for the next home and stopped short and changed directions when a man was thrown through a window. An orc laughed and followed at a leisurely pace and grabbed the man by the neck until he was struggling for breath hanging in the air.

Our eyes connected and my face contorted in pain and realization. It was Éored. Our eyes found each other and his hand outstretched towards me. He whimpered and his eyes pleaded me to help in words that would not escape his throat. I shook my head at him tears in my eyes. I was too afraid to leave my spot against the wall.

Don't look at me, I can't help you. I'm sorry! I'm too afraid.

I closed my eyes and turned my head away. I willed my body closer to the building praying I wouldn't be noticed by Éored's murderer.

Another strangled cry was followed by a gruesome snap and I winced trying not to imagine what had happened. At a loud thump I opened my eyes; something heavy had landed at my feet. The neck was bruised and at an odd angle. Éored's eyes were glazed in death and I stared at them for a moment longer because I knew those warm hazel eyes. I had spent time with him, laughing and eating as a family. Why was I such a coward? Why couldn't I be a strong female heroine and actually save someone for a change? Maybe I was cursed to have everyone around me die.

I wish I had spent more time with him. He was a good man. I'm sorry Éored.

I launched myself from the wall after the orc left and took off in the opposite direction. I meandered from building to building looking for Daniel and trying to escape Éored's eyes glazed in death. My mind kept making excuses for leaving him to die while my heart clenched in remorse.

I would have died.

There was nothing I could have done.

We both would have died.

I was a coward.

Out of breath, I nearly cried in relief when I reached the modest home. It was alight with flames, but the home wasn't entirely consumed. I entered cautiously covering my nose and mouth with a wet sleeve. My eyes watered at the smoke and I coughed at the burning sensation in my lungs.

"Daniel?" I called quietly at first. "Are you here? Abigail? Henry?" I tried calling for the couple hoping for…Well for them to be alive. I'm not sure what I expected at this point, or why I was here when it was clear that only an idiot would stay in a burning a building. Or someone possibly injured in need of help.

The home was a mess of strewn furniture and items scattered across the floor. Walking further into the home I slipped and caught myself before I fell. My eyes scanned the floor and saw a small pool of blood. I followed the trail of blood to the table and walked over carefully. I gasped seeing a male shoe and scanned the body slowly until I saw the face. It was distorted but recognizable. I felt terrible, but I was relieved when I saw the empty terror filled eyes of Henry and not Daniel. His skin was cold, but I checked his pulse to make sure. My fingers slipped from cold flesh. He was dead.

My eyes filled with tears, but I refused to even think that Daniel might have been here when Henry was killed. A sudden noise drew me away from him and I crouched low to the ground.

An orc would have attacked the first moment he spotted me. "Daniel? Abigail?" My voice was shaking.

A young cry filled my ears and seeing movement I made my way across the room. The sounds came from behind a bureau. "Hello?"

Small hands wrapped around the splintered wood and a face appeared. "Haleth," I sighed in relief. "Honey are you alright? Where's your Mom?" He was dirty beyond belief and his eyes were scared. "Come on out Haleth, its okay now." Doubtful even a kid would believe that lie, but I had to try.

Haleth was having none of it though. I'm not sure if it was because he didn't believe me or he was just too afraid but he shook his head and refused to move. "Haleth, let's go find your Mom. Come on it's not safe in here."

"Stay with Mommy," he whispered.

"Yes, we'll go find her," I nodded.

He retreated back around the bureau and I sighed following him. I couldn't just leave Haleth, not like I had left Éored. When I crawled to the other side of the bureau I halted feeling my knee soak in something that smelt and looked akin to urine. I stopped abruptly seeing Haleth cuddled against a woman. I sighed in relief instantly recognizing Léofwyn. No wonder Haleth wouldn't leave.

"Léofwyn, thank Gods. Are you alright? We need to get out of here; the building's going to burn." I covered my mouth and coughed trying not to breath in the smoke. "Léofwyn? Are you hurt?" I touched her shoulder and her arm fell to the side. Blood dripped from her fingers to the floor steadily. I brought a shaking hand to my mouth trying to hold back my whimper.

Léofwyn was dead.

The resounding crack of burning and splintering wood startled me. The house was getting warmer and the smoke was becoming thicker. Daniel wasn't here. The house was small and he would have heard me. We needed to leave before the house went up in flames. Swallowing, I avoided looking at Léofwyn and tried drawing Haleth away from his deceased Mother.

"Haleth, come here. We need to leave." He clutched tighter to Léofwyn and shook his head. Licking my dry lips I tried again. "Please Haleth, I'm sorry baby but your Mom's-" I stumbled on the words, "she's gone baby. And we need to go someplace safe."

Diana came up and started licking his face. He reached out to touch her and I nodded. "Yes, come along Haleth. We can go play with Diana, but we have to go outside first."

He withdrew his hand from Diana and curled closer to his Mother. "No!"

I was thoroughly fluxed. Haleth would not leave his Mother's side. I grabbed his arm but he wouldn't budge. "Haleth, come here right now!" I whispered harshly. He started to cry but I managed to wrestle him from his Mother as he kicked and punched. Léofwyn's body toppled sideways and Haleth screamed loudly yelling for her. I covered his mouth with my hand and stood. I stepped around the falling debris and went to the entrance, Haleth struggling the entire time.

He wouldn't quiet and I was afraid of attracting unwanted attention, namely orcs. And I couldn't stop worrying about Daniel. I turned the corner going around the back of the building when a hand clamped down on my shoulder.

I whirled around and delivered a swift sweeping kick nearly dropping Haleth in the process. Not waiting to see the outcome I started running when a voice yelled out "Brennan!"

I turned on my heel and was overcome with relief. "Daniel!" I ran back and hugged him fiercely while Diana enthusiastically licked his face. "Oh my Gods are you alright? I saw Henry and I thought…never mind, is Abigail alright?"

His face was grave and sweaty. He shook his head, "No."

I bit my lip and my eyes watered. "I came looking for you." My fingers twisted in his shirt.

"I was about to go look for you too. We need to get out of here." I nodded. Apparently we were both on the same wavelength. I felt a little less guilty about not going in search of the others knowing he was thinking similarly. He nodded at Haleth. "Where's Léofwyn?"

I shook my head and turned Haleth's head further into my shoulder. Daniel sighed and ran a hand through his hair. He took my hand and we started making our way around the building when Diana started barking. "We should head to the-Brennan move!"

Daniel pushed me violently and I gasped seeing a massive Uruk-hai towering in front of us. There was no mistaking this creature for a mere orc. His body was powerful and sculpted and he carried himself proudly. But even more intimidating was the White Hand of Saruman displayed on his face.

The Uruk-hai sneered at us and sniffed the air delicately and turned his beady eyes on me. "The White Wizard will be pleased. Come here female."

"No fucking way. You stay away from us. Brennan, take Haleth and go!"


The Uruk-hai laughed menacingly. "Stupid human, I will rip your limbs from your body and feast on your flesh."

The Uruk-hai rushed us and Daniel intercepted colliding with its stomach. I don't know what he was thinking. There was no way he could take on an Uruk-hai outside of Skyrim. I had more fighting ability than he did!

"Daniel, don't!" I screamed and let Haleth down pushing him away from me. "Go, run!" I pushed him again and he took off running.

"I will enjoy this." The Uruk-hai grabbed Daniel around the neck and easily lifted him off the ground. His feet dangled helplessly. The Uruk-hai sneered relishing in our vulnerability.

With a growl, Diana viciously latched on the monsters leg. The Uruk-hai growled in fury and turned in a large arc that swung her back and forth until she couldn't maintain the bite. Diana flew through the air and hit the ground with a cry.


She didn't get up. The Uruk-hai chortled and renewed his grasp around Daniel's neck.

"Daniel!" All sense left me and I rushed the Uruk-hai and delivered a blow to the back of his head.

The Uruk-hai threw Daniel to the ground and turned on me angrily. This was it; I was so going to die. "I would take pleasure in killing you female." I threw my body weight into his side and then aimed a kick to his head. He caught my leg in mid-air and knocked me to the ground. "But my Master wishes for you alive." I spit the blood from my mouth and stared as he walked towards me slowly.

Suddenly his eyes shifted and he turned brandishing a crooked sword. In one swift horrible move I saw his blade pierce through Daniel's side.


The Uruk-hai ripped his blade from Daniel's body and he fell on his knees. I watched horrified as he clutched his side and blood sputtered from his mouth. For one moment our eyes met and it felt like time had stopped, as if the entire world stood still. And then it was over and Daniel lay completely still on the ground.

There was so much I wanted to say to him and so much we had to do still. We had to find a way back home, and we were going to find a way together. He couldn't die by the hands of some filthy Uruk-hai!

Blood pulsed through my veins and I clenched my jaw blinking away tears. I grasped the only weapon I could find, a large stone. I threw the rock at his face as hard as I could.

It hit him in the back and he turned to me with amusement. "Ugly fucker!" I yelled for all I was worth and picked up another stone to throw. This one struck true and grazed his face. A thin black streak of blood dripped near his eye. He seethed at me and swiftly knocked me across the face. My head snapped abruptly to the right from the harsh fingers came away sticky with blood.

He stepped closer but I was too afraid to move. "Fucking human female!" I stared into his yellow eyes knowing he was no longer amused. He said he had wanted me alive, but that meant little.

"You're more trouble than your worth bitch. Perhaps, I won't bring you back in one piece after all."

I couldn't understand a thing he said. My Black Speech was limited and I had only said that to piss him off. I shook my head and scooted backwards on my hands fearing what he was about to do. I hoped Haleth had escaped safely. There was no way I was coming out of this alive, not this time. This didn't feel like a random attack, he was targeting me for a reason. But it didn't matter now. As he raised his weapon soaked with my brother's blood I closed my eyes and waited for the blow.

But it never came.

Instead I heard a large clash and I opened my eyes to see the same orc that had attacked me from the stream. Only now I could tell he wasn't an orc, but an Uruk-hai. But this one was different. I'm not sure how exactly, but he was. He carried himself in an almost human manner and he did not bear the White Hand. It was an unbelievable sight, seeing two Uruk-hai clashing swords. What was even more unbelievable was the fact that one had saved me. At least think it did.

Their swords locked together and the Uruk-hai from the stream turned to me and grunted out in unmistakable English, "Run!"

I stared at him stupidly too overwhelmed by the fact that he was speaking English and directing it at me. And he was telling me to run. But I couldn't leave Daniel…

Your brother's dead.

He grew impatient and yelled once more this time urgently. "RUN!"

This time I listened. I got up and ran as if my life depended on it.

I stumbled past the house and my only thoughts were getting to Déorhild's back house near the barn. It was dangerous here and I had to escape but I couldn't escape without anything in Middle Earth or I'd be just as good as dead.

Isabella, Isabella, I heard you crying through the walls
What's the matter? What's the matter?
All the neighbors hear it down the hall

A body collided with me and we tumbled to the ground. I shoved roughly and they fell away crying pitifully.


"Haleth!" He whimpered as snot dripped from his nose. I clutched him to my chest relieved to see him alive. I couldn't leave him again. He wouldn't survive on his own and I wasn't sure if I could survive on my own either. I didn't want to be alone. Grasping his hand I dragged him behind me in a manic state.

"Come on we have to go. We'll leave, it'll be fine. You'll see." I didn't know who I was trying to comfort, him or me.

And I didn't want to be the first to say
Everyone around here thinks you're crazy
And I didn't want to be the first to say you shouldn't stay,
Isabella run away

My feet were beginning to ache. I made a mental note to throw my sneakers in my pack along with food. I was determined not to die before reaching Edoras. Hopefully, they'd take kindly to strangers, for Haleth's sake. But first we had to reach Déorhild's and secure a horse, if there were any that hadn't escaped. Haleth stumbled and fell twice before I swept him into my fatiguing arms. He was young and couldn't keep up with me. It made running more difficult for me but it saved time. He was strangely complacent in my arms and I feared he was in shock. No doubt he was scarred for life. I thought I might be as well.

It wasn't a straight run to the barn but we managed to get there in one piece. We barely managed to avoid the orcs running about, but it seemed that most of the people in the village were dead or worse. The foul creatures were enjoying their gains and some of them were pillaging the homes with intensity. It was almost like they were looking for something. I shuddered thinking of the words the Uruk-hai said to me before killing Daniel. My poor Daniel…

Why couldn't' I have saved him? If I was stronger maybe I could have done something. Instead, Daniel, a normal teenage boy had put his life on the line to protect me. He had saved me. He was my little brother, and I was supposed to protect him, not the other way around.

All your heroes are your records,
You play 'em loud but I don't mind the noise.
Why ya hiding? Why you staying?
Maybe you don't think you have a choice.

We reached Déorhild's home and I was relieved to see that it was not consumed by flames like so many of the others in the village. I rushed into the house going straight for the kitchen. I tried to ignore the feelings and memories associated with this kitchen and the people here. They were dead, most likely all of them. Even sweet Heruwyn was most likely dead.

I set Haleth down momentarily to find an old sack that was used for flour and started filling it with anything of value both in food and appliances. Once that was full I started on another. It wouldn't be heavy, and I could carry most of it if we couldn't procure a horse.

"Haleth, hand me the apples on the table." A few moments passed and I sighed in irritation and grabbed the apples myself. Haleth was facing an open door holding an apple in one hand. I went over to him and placed a hand on his shoulder and realized that he was standing in front of Déorhild's old room.

At the noises I sucked in a breath and looked into the room. I had never seen Gléowyn so unkempt before. She was perched on the bloodied bed besides Déorhild's body. If not for all the blood and other bodily fluids, I would think she was sleeping. Gléowyn had laid Déorhild's hands across her chest, but I was surprised seeing Heruwyn similarly.

"Gléowyn?" I called quietly stepping into the room.

She was rocking slightly and muttering under her breath. I wasn't sure if she heard me so I called again.

"Shh," she said her eyes darting in my direction. She ran her hand through Heruwyn's hair lovingly and pressed a finger to her lips. "They're sleeping. They are very tired, we must let them rest. Yes, we must give them plenty of time to rest."

I walked further into the room with a sense of dread. Heruwyn's neck was covered in bruises. Only the bruises resembled hand prints, human ones. Delicately I felt her pulse and then turned to Gléowyn in utter disbelief.

"Gléowyn, what did you do?" I whispered terrified.

"This way no one will hurt her." She muttered her eyes wild.

And I didn't want to tell you face to face
That your mom and dad are straight up crazy
It's really hard for me to say that you shouldn't stay,
Isabella run away

Surely she wasn't capable of this. There was no way she could have hurt her own child. I refused to believe it. "Gléowyn, where's the baby?"

"Baby? Baby, what baby?" Her fingers pressed against her lips.

"Déorhild's baby, your niece."

"Yes, yes she's here too. Here I'll show you, she's sleeping. She was fussing, but now she's quiet." Gléowyn lifted a small bundle into her arms and I held back my gasp. The baby's sheets were no longer their original white.

Don't you be afraid
It's never too late
You're a sleeping tiger, come awake
Isabella run away.

Slowly I began to back out of the room. Gléowyn continued to speak softly rocking the child in a mockery of an embrace.

I took Haleth's hand and the two parcels and walked away as quietly as possible before turning my back on Gléowyn's madness.

Out the window of your bedroom, climb on down the fire escape.
I left some money and a ticket.
For the first time in your life don't be afraid

We ran around the back of the building to the one I stayed in and where the horses were also kept. I had never ridden them before as they were labor horses and Baldred had made it clear from the beginning that he didn't want them spoiled.

A crash came from behind us followed by Gléowyn's maddening scream. I didn't even consider going back to help her. Instead I increased our pace to a slow jog and pushed the screams to the back of my mind. We reached the back house with little incident. Haleth watched quietly as I repacked. I was a flurry of movement and focused on survival. I would get us out of here alive no matter what.

And baby I will be the first to say
You are stronger than you know, you'll find your way.
Isabella run away.

Leaving was the only rational thing to do. There was only death. Keeping my mind free of all thoughts except the task at hand was the only way I could stay functional. Therefore, I didn't think of anyone while I packed my bag and threw in what little food I had scavenged. I didn't think of how young Haleth was and how terrible it was for him when I yelled at him to hurry up and move faster. I tried not to think of Daniel, or the elderly couple. And I especially avoided all thoughts having to do with Gléowyn's madness and the praising eyes of her daughter as she looked to me for guidance.

Don't you be afraid
It's never too late
You're a sleeping tiger, come awake
Isabella run away.

There were two horses and I picked the strongest and most reliable, a grey Shire labor horse named Harold. I strapped his working harness on his back and made quick work of securing our supplies. I tried to work fast and efficiently while staying as quiet as possible. I set Haleth on Harold and pulled myself to sit behind him. I held fast to Haleth and hoped our materials and two riders wouldn't be too much for the beast. There was no way we wouldn't be heard galloping away, so in a last ditch effort I released the other horse and sent him in the opposite direction. Both horses burst forth into the open terrain and I urged Harold into a run wrapping my arms securely around Haleth and telling him to hold on tightly. I urged Harold along holding fast to the reigns and Haleth praying neither we nor our meager supplies would dislodge. I dared not look behind. I didn't want to know if we were being followed.

I couldn't give up; we had to get as far away as soon as possible and keep going until we found shelter or reached Edoras. Daniel and I had plotted this route for the last week so I knew the general direction I needed to go. Hopefully we wouldn't get lost and die out in the middle of nowhere.

Isabella, Isabella
Isabella, Isabella

Don't you be afraid
It's never too late
You're a sleeping tiger, come awake
Isabella run away.

The wind was harsh against my face and my tears were lost behind me. The only sounds were the beating of hooves and our shuddering breathes. I promise Daniel, I'll keep going, I'll find a way a home and I won't give up on living. I'll be stronger for you.

"Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them."

~ George Eliot


~ Dia Frampton

AN: Please READ and REVIEW! Thank you for your support. Still in need of a Beta. Like the music? I thought this song went well with the insanity of the situation, but you decide. It's not sad but it's just out-of-place, much like Brennan. I didn't want something sad and mopey but something that added to the madness. How was the fighting scene? How do you feel about switching from Brennan's first person POV to third person POV off and on? Brennan too Mary Sue for you? Let me know what you think!

Next Chapter: In which Brennan grieves, arrives in Edoras, and meets a noble shield maiden.