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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: April 14th, 2016, 5:37 pm 
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The voices in the hall had morphed into a buzz, like a swarm of bees. The clattering sound of cutlery, Master Urúvion's sharp laughter, the girl's hushed warning, Lynne heard it all acutely. Her grey eyes flashed from the eager face of the man called Rhys to the guards, standing at their leisure scattered through the hall, obviously not suspecting any danger and enjoying the feast.

Then Lynne looked back to dais. The master was holding the hand of that other Lady, but Lady Morrigan seemed not to be bothered by it. Her gaze was empty, her hand near the Master's goblet. A flicker of light, the reflection of candlelight in bright glass. It was only there for a moment, cristal clear, but Lynne knew what she'd seen. Quickly she turned her back to the dais, not daring to stare for too long.

A cold nauseating rush of panic took hold of her. How was it possible to feel so much all at the same time? Every fiber of her being trembled at the thought of what might come to pass. The fear petrified her, but at the same time she felt some responsibility for these poor creatures standing in front of her. She pitied their fate and wished she could help them. But how could she help them when she felt so powerless?

The burning glare of the Steward of the house set Lynne into motion. She had lingered around the prisoners for too long. She took the cup from Rhys' hands and looked into his eyes. They were bright, inquisitive, probably at some times filled with playfulness. Now was the time to say something. "There's a wine cellar near the servant's quarters," she spoke soundlessly. "In the east wing."

Ascending the dais, Lynne tried to steady herself. If her heart continued to beat so loudly in her chest, she was convinced that everyone would hear. Another servant had relieved her from the ewer and cup, so Lynne took her place a few paces behind Lady Morrigan's seat, waiting to be called upon. Calm and composed she had to be, but she was all but calm. Master Urúvion had not yet touched his goblet. That gave her time to think. Think. Think! But precious moments seem to while away before her panic gave way to ratio.

What were the facts? Lady Morrigan had confided in her this morning that she feared for her life and was willing to resort to desperate measures. Lynne had seen how her Lady's hand had hovered over the goblet of the master, a glass vial in her hand. What if she did nothing? What if she would just let this play out? In her heart she knew that it was no more than the man deserved. But if something happened to the Lord of Taurband this night, there would be a new one in the morning. One possibly even more cruel than this one. This palace and the entire city would be turned upside down to find the perpetrator. And who could be a better suspect than that foreign servant who waited on Lord Urúvion's Lady and had access to the dais and the goblets of both Lord and Lady?

Lynne clenched her hands so hard that her nails dug in the palms of her hand to keep them from trembling. She took deep breaths and kept her eyes focused on Urúvion's goblet. She had to stop this, even if it was at the expense of her Lady's trust and friendship or her position in this house. She would stop this.


-----------------------------

They were still there. Thunder did not strike, Urúvion's did not lift his hand to condemn them. Instead he sat there on his throne with Arawen at his side. He ate and laughed while they were completely ignored. Perhaps, they had only been dragged in there to be mocked, but Beör doubted it. This was just another of Urúvion's games. Like a snake, he preferred to circle his preys, slowly closing in on them before he went for the kill.

Beör tried not to glance at Arawen, as he could only see how she was caught in his web. And he was the one who placed her there. He had forced her to make this sacrifice and for what? He indeed must be going made to ever have thought that his plan could work.


---------------------------

"I had to try," Rhys admitted to Luthien, as he rubbed the spot where she'd grabbed his arm. "We need this to work. It's our only chance," he added with more conviction, hoping that the look of hopelessness would disappear from her face. Even if Luthien had no faith in their half-baked plan, he couldn't resign himself to this fate.

The red-haired girl had probably risked more than she realised by giving him this essential information about the house. From what he had seen in Urúvion's house he knew that its master bathed in splendour and everything was done to make him and his inner circle want for nothing. Slaves toiled on the land to supply food but the more exquisite wares came from the West, stolen or smuggled. Salt from the Belfalas Bay, the finest pipeweed from the Shire or wines from Lake Town. Rhys had seen the wagons loaded with barrels rolling into the city when he worked in the fields. These barrels were large and heavy and could only be rolled into their storage room.

"The cellar.." Rhys whispered into Luthien's ear. His blue eyes lit up with this possibility of escape. "It probably has another exit, a way out."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: June 12th, 2016, 6:10 pm 
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"A wine cellar!" Luthien seized on this new piece of information, her sense of hopelessness all but forgotten. In a moment, nearly everything had changed. Before, she had seen no way to make their escape a reality; this dark outlook had closed her mind to all possibilities. She wished she had been able to say thank you to the servant with the red hair, but she had gone already. "Of course there must be an exit there! She wouldn't have told us otherwise." She looked towards Beor, hoping that he would share in their renewed hope.

However, she was soon distracted by a blast of fanfare. Her gaze was drawn towards the dais, where Uruvion was rising from his throne like chair. Luthien quickly glanced at her companions, her complexion somewhat grey, before craning her neck to try and catch a glimpse of Arawen. Something was going to happen now, that much was clear. Did Arawen know anything of what was to come? Or was she just as much in the dark as the rest of them?

~~~

Uruvion's poisoned wine remained untouched as he stood up to address his court. Before doing so, he turned a smile from Morrigan to Arawen. His ability to appear perfectly amiable was chilling; both women knew what he was capable of. Neither were fooled by his show of kindness.

"What a delightful evening this looks sure to be," Uruvion announced in a loud, clear voice. His court was watching intently, exchanging speculative murmurs with one another. Everyone was eager to know what the whole purpose of this gathering was. "My loyal court, you will notice that I am accompanied by the Lady Morrigan, but I do not think I have had the honour of introducing you to the Lady Arawen." He gestured to the dark haired woman at his side, who sat as still as a stone, her expression lifeless. "She is a good friend of mine of many years, and I cannot express in words how much it pleases me to have her here tonight." He paused, his dark eyes gleaming. "But, dear friends, the guest list does not end there. May I direct your attention to the despicable prisoners, just over there." He pointed towards the platform where Rhys, Luthien and Beor were standing.

"Criminals, all three of them," Uruvion continued. The crowd began jeering and hissing. Uruvion smiled in approval. "However, I am inclined to show mercy. Specifically, to one prisoner, and one prisoner only. I have seen fit to place the choice of freedom in the hands of Lady Morrigan and Lady Arawen. They shall decide who shall go free."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: June 23rd, 2016, 6:27 pm 
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Rhys nodded at Luthien with glinstering eyes. He felt the same quiet excitement, as he saw flashing over her face. He wanted to say something to the redhaired girl, whisper his gratitude, but she had already turned her back at him and walked away to take her place behind Morrigan and Urúvion on the dais. He noticed how pale her face was and how tensed she looked and Rhys wished that he could help her the way she had helped him.

But the truth was that after tonight he would probably never see her again. He had to take his chance tonight, create chaos or a diversion so that he find a way out. The chance that he would succeed and walk underneath the blue sky as a free man again was slim, but he would not give up now.

-----------------------------

Lynne's eyes were transfixed on master Urúvion's goblet. Feverishly, she tried to come up with some excuse to get the goblet away from the table, but in her nervous state Lynne couldn't come up with anything plausible. It was hard enough to predict when the master was going take a sip of his wine, as she was staring at his back, let alone that she could be in time to stop him.

It took Lynne about a minute to notice that someone was poking her in the back. A servant from the kitchens stood behind her, handed her a glass caraffe with water and nodded towards the table. Lynne slided the sweaty palms of her hands over her apron to dry them and took the caraffe.

When she turned to the table again, automatically a smile appeared on her face. A good servant never showed her worries or troubles to her masters. Instead, she would loose herself in her task to fulfill their needs and wishes. However, she couldn't help but swaying a little as she approached the table; her body seemed as much out of balance as her mind.

Lynne noticed that Urúvion stood up to address the court, yet she did not listen to his words. She tried hard to conceal her nervousness as she stood next to Lady Morrigan's seat, but her hand trembled when she stretched her arm to refill her Lady's glass.

It was only when Urúvion pointed to the group of prisoners, that Lynne focused on what the Lord of Taurband had to say. She stood next to Lady Morrigan, the poisoned wine temporarily forgotten, frozen with horror as Master Urúvion once again displayed his true colours. This was why he was feared. This was why he was the Master of Taurband.

--------------------------------

Beör's grey eyes found Luthien's blue ones. Her gaze was filled with hope and a certain stubbornness, a refusal to give up. It was the same stubbornness that had nearly driven him mad when he first met her. But now the ranger was just overwhelmed with gratitude that this girl was still here - alive. Her presence made him feel a less lost, but he knew that he would never possess such strength as she did. When a man was broken too many times, he would lose his resilience as well ability to believe in the impossible.

Unaware of what the servant girl had just whispered to Luthien and Rhys, Beör tried to offer Luthien a smile. He only succeeded in lifting the corners of his lips somewhat. It had been a long, long time since a genuine smile had effortlessly warmed his face. But his small smile faded quickly when Urúvion rose and spoke. He listened almost in trance to the man's malicious words and hardly even moved when the court stirred to jeer and taunt them. A heavy weight plummeted in Beör's stomach and his knees trembled as if they couldn't hold his weight, when Urúvion had revealed his play for that night.

Even after all these years in Mordor being tormented by this man, the ranger was still hit every time by his cunningness and cruelty. Or did his body react this way because unconsciously their escape from the darkest of places had lit a tiny flame of hope within him, even if it didn't last for long?

But no matter how inhumane this choice was or how hopeless the prospect for those who had to stay behind, for one person it would mean freedom. No one deserved to be there or had committed any crime that could justify any of this. But the person with the best chance to survive was Luthien. He had voiced that thought to Arawen weeks ago. The girl was still young, unaffected and not corrupted by darkness, she had still her whole life ahead of her. Arawen had to realise that, Beör hoped. All that remained for him to do was to be as brave as he knew he had to be and to say farewell.

Somewhere in that moment between realisation and desperation, Beör tugged Luthien's arm, so she would take a step closer to him and whispered:
"You know that it must be you, right Luthien?" Beör swallowed. The look on her face was heart breaking, but he persisted.

"It is you who has the best chances of getting out of here. You're strong and resourceful. Maybe you can find a way out together with Arawen. She'll make sure to pick you." The iron chains that fastened the shackles around his wrists clattered when he clasped both hands around hers. "Please," his voice nearly cracked as he pleaded her. "Take this chance."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: July 14th, 2016, 5:31 pm 
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In the awful silence that followed Uruvion's announcement, the screech of Arawen's chair as it was scraped back seemed to echo across the great hall, like a ghastly scream. In all her finery, she appeared as fearsome as any queen as she rose to her feet. "No," she said in voice that rang out loud and clear. "I refuse to make the choice. It is both unlawful and immoral." She looked at Morrigan, who had remained as still as a stone in her seat. "Lady Morrigan, I implore you to refuse as well."

"I think you'll find that the Lady Morrigan will make the wisest choice," Uruvion declared, shooting Morrigan a chilly look. "I expected an objection from you, Arawen, but you will find that Morrigan will do nothing that displeases me. Obedience is in her nature." He stepped towards Morrigan and placed a heavy hand on her shoulder. She still had not moved a muscle, a frozen look glazing her features. "However, even in the unlikely event that any thought of disobedience crossed her mind, I must inform her that she has no choice in the matter. If she joins you in your stubbornness, Arawen, her life will be forfeit."

Arawen stared at him in horror. "You go too far, Uruvion. Even for you."

"No," Uruvion shot back. "If anything I don't go far enough. I think that I show remarkable mercy. I could have imprisoned you too, Arawen, but I chose to spare you. But are you grateful? No, you throw my kindness back in my face."

"It is no kindness," Arawen shouted. "I would rather die an honourable death with my friends rather than live in this gilded charade. You are an evil man, 'Lord' Uruvion." She sprang forward and seized a knife from the dinner table. Uruvion laughed in her face, clicking his fingers to summon his guards, who promptly restrained Arawen. But they did not expect the second attack.

Morrigan jumped up from her seat, grabbing Uruvion's goblet of wine and forcing it to his lips. Uruvion choked, spluttering red liquid, but Morrigan persisted. Her face was transformed with hatred and fury. She threw the empty goblet to the ground and watched as Uruvion retched on the poison.

"Prepare to die, Uruvion of Taurband," she said, the calmness of her voice at odds with her flushed, angry face. "Prepare to leave this world."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: July 18th, 2016, 11:49 am 
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Lynne watched in horror how Urúvion's body started to convulse after the poison had been poured down his throat. His complexion became ashen and his breath ragged. The man collapsed to his knees and grasped his throat. Then everything suddenly happened at once. Urúvion's inner circle of allies jumped to their feet and ran to the dais, people started to shout, women screamed in panic and the Steward of the House gestured the guards so that they could give the master some space.

Lynne had nearly forgotten to breath. The whole scene filled her with abhorrence. The sharp sound of glass shards underneath her shoes made her tear her gaze from the choking man. She glanced at the crimson stains on her apron and dress and realised that she had dropped the carafe of wine. Her hands were still trembling. It was then that she found her voice again.

"What have you done?" she shouted frantically over the sound of chaos at Morrigan. The woman stood perfectly still, watching the scene with a tranquil smile on her lips. Lynne edged away from Lady Morrigan, disbelief on her face. She was pushed to the back of the dais by the crowd, who'd ascended the dais. Most of them came to the aid of their Lord, others perhaps to make sure the perpetrator was caught. Suddenly, a golden glimmer caught her eye and the redhead discerned Urúvion's goblet at the feet of another servant, who was about to pick it up.

"Don't touch it," Lynne called out to the boy. "It's filled with poison." She wanted to tell the boy to take a cloth to pick it up, but Lynne found herself pushed away from the boy and nearly trampled on the toes of the Steward. His face was contorted with rage, probably because of the bold attempt on the life of his Lord and the courtiers, who only made matters worse. He shouted to one of the guards to clear the dais. Then he turned to her and commanded: "Get the Master's physician and if you value your life, get him here now."

Guards were shouting now and there were other screams as well. But Lynne turned her back on it, made herself as small as possible to press through the crowd and make her way to the servant's corridor.

The darkened corridor was an oasis of peace and quiet compared to the tumult in the Great Hall. The court physician was a kind man. Lynne had met him on several occasions, when he had tended to Lady Morrigan. His chambers were only a few flight of stairs up in the east wing of the palace. But when Lynne had set one feet on the first step, a strong arm circled around her waist. A large hand covered Lynne's mouth, muffling her cry. She struggled to free herself but his grasp was too strong. When he softly chuckled in her ear, she recognized her attacker, instantly aware of his intentions. Her body went rigid with fear while she was pulled into the shadows.

----------------

It took Beör a few moments before he realised what was happening. Maybe the Ranger's senses had been dulled after his long captivity or perhaps he just couldn't believe what his eyes were seeing: Urúvion was dying. Then finally Beör reacted. He turned to Luthien, only to discover that she was gone. His eyes wandered through the hall, but many courtiers had left their seat. People ran to to the dais, others tried to leave the hall in fear that not just their Lord but the entire court would be targeted. Then his heart leapt up in relief when he spotted her golden blond hair. The other prisoner, who had been brought to the hall with them, held her hand as he leaded her to a side entrance of the hall and hopefully to safety.

Beör himself started to run as well, not towards towards the doors, but the dais. He couldn't leave without her. He had to make sure that she reached safety as well. Anxiously, Beör searched for her face in the crowd. "Arawen?" He lay his chained hand on the shoulder of a dark-haired woman dressed in a red gown. But when the woman turned around, it was not Arawen who was looking at him. The woman's eyes glided from his tattered clothing to the chains and shrieked.

The Ranger pushed her out of the way, this time shouting Arawen's name, hoping she would respond. Perhaps she had already left, sneaked away in the first moments of panic just like Luthien had. But then he remembered her words: Nothing and no one will make me abandon you. We all leave here together, or not at all.

More guards had joined the others to enforce order. They drove the crowd away from the dais. He had not much time left before they would get the situation under control.

"You there." A voice behind him said. Too late.. "You're not going anywhere." Beör couldn't help but turn around, only to see a guard with raised sword. The hilt of the sword crashed down on his head and the ranger collapsed to the ground. Then everything became black.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: September 17th, 2016, 6:56 pm 
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Lynne couldn't breath. She lay limply with eyes tightly shut until his hand released its firm grip on her throat and her frail form was no longer crushed underneath the weight of his body. She smelled wine and foul breath when he whispered in her ear: "Lets do this again soon."

Only when the door of the small treasury chamber opened and closed Lynne crumbled to the floor, gasping for air, trembling violently. Hours seemed to pass as she lay curled up on the cold stones beneath an ornate desk, trying not think or feel, not to remember. She felt cold and feverish, like she had just woken up from a nightmare, but the sharp pain between her legs was real, as was the bitter taste of blood in her mouth.

After what seemed an eternity, Lynne tried to sit up and wipe her cheeks with her sleeves, but the tears kept flowing. Then she caught a thought that filled her with renewed panic. What if someone found her like this and found out what happened? The laws of Taurband were harsh and merciless when it came fallen women and they were to be made example of. They were cast out and punished.

These thoughts prompted Lynne into action. To keep herself from completely panicking, she focused on the present, working with little steps, first sitting up entirely, before slowly standing up and moving towards the door. If she only focused on these tasks, she could keep herself from curling up in a corner again.

But at the moment she was to open the door, Lynne froze, her hand still on the handle, as another thought hit her. She couldn't appear anywhere the way she looked now. She had to look awful, her hair disheveled, her dress torn and blood on her face. It took her at least twice as long to braid her hair again, her trembling hands fumbling with the red strands. With spit she wiped away the crimson liquid from under her nose. There was nothing to do about the dress: it was torn and badly marked. She had to change.

Lynne moved through the hallways like a shadow. Her feet moved swiftly but it felt like a part of her was still in that room, reliving what had happened. Guards and servants bustled through the hallways, whispering insistently with one another, some looking worried, others scared. All that happened earlier that night came back to her in full force. The festivities, the prisoners and the poisoned goblet. The idea that Urúvion might have died and Lady Morrigan would be prosecuted ghosted through her head, she felt the nervous buzz in the hallways, she heard the frightened voices of what would happen if the Master would die. But Lynne felt nothing. All she wanted was some water and soap and for this night never to have happened.

Lynne kept her head down until she reached the servant's quarters. Underneath the mattress of her cot, she fetched the sack with her belongings. Frantically, she checked the entrance, as she quickly changed into her old dress and without second thought stuffed the worn one back in the sack and underneath the mattress.

The kitchen of the house of master Urúvion was busy at every hour of the day. During the day, sumptuous meals were prepared for the court and at night the fires had to be kept going, water had to be boilt, pots and pans had to be scoured and bread was baked for the next day. This evening, however, it seemed as if all the servants were still up and swarming through the kitchen. Lynne was grateful for this, for now she could make her way through the crowd unnoticed. With shaky hands she fastened her apron and set to work. And even though she was surrounded by people, she felt more despair and more alone than ever.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: October 16th, 2016, 1:58 pm 
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"It is nothing less than a miracle that you are alive, my lord. I cannot emphasise enough how very close you came to death."

Uruvion looked up at the physician, his gaze still slightly bleary and his complexion waxy. "I am thankful... for your efforts." He spoke haltingly. "I shall ensure that you are richly rewarded." He was aware of the circle of courtiers standing around the bed, crowded about him like a group of carrion birds. It was obvious that they had all expected him to die. Perhaps they had been hoping that he would die. He couldn't exactly say that he blamed them. In his view, leadership went hand in hand with fear and hatred.

"What of the Lady Morrigan, my lord?" intoned the courtier with the grimmest face. "She has been confined to her chambers, but the court and the city expects a high punishment fitting for the severity of her crime. A warrant has been prepared for her arrest. It awaits only your signature, my lord."

The others muttered in agreement, but Uruvion very slowly lifted his hand. "No."

"No?"

"I want her kept here... for the time being."

There was a long silence as the listeners took in this ridiculous statement. Had the poison worked on their lord's mind as well as his body, and made him quite mad? Or had the Lady Morrigan worked some insidious spell on him, rendering him completely blind to her crime? In the opinion of the majority of the court, it had been a grave mistake to raise a Rohirric girl, a slave no less, to such a high status. But their lord had been quite deaf to reason, and would hear nothing against her.

"May I remind your lordship," said the grim voiced man, "that this girl attempted to murder you."

"I am aware of it," Uruvion said. "And she shall be dealt with. But not yet." He weakly waved his hand. "You... may all leave, save the physician."

~~~

It was near dawn. Arawen had slept through much of the night, to her surprise. Her own attempt on Uruvion's life had earned her a place in the cells. She had no idea what had happened to Morrigan. According to the laws of the city, they both deserved death. But it had not come yet. She didn't even know if Uruvion was still alive.

But whatever the day might bring, she and Beor were still alive. For now. She did not hold out much hope for her own survival. If it was her fate to be led out to a scaffold, what would happen to Beor? He relied on her too much. Without her, without Luthien, he would just let himself fade away. Arawen slowly raised herself up from the cold stone floor and looked over to the cell opposite hers where Beor was kept.

"Beor?" she called to him quietly, not wanting to alert the guards who were lodged not far away from the cell block. "Are you awake?"

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: October 21st, 2016, 2:57 pm 
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Morrigan stood at the windows of her chambers, looking out at the courtyard below. Servants were bustling around in the first of the dawn light, going about their business in ant like formation. Morrigan pushed the drapes back in place, obscuring her view. She didn't really want to see the world outside this room. She knew that there was trouble waiting for her out there, behind the locked doors. There was a guard placed outside the room.

She adjusted the fur collar of her cloak of deep blue velvet, wondering when they would come for her. At least death would be some kind of release from this cruel and harsh life. She did not really want to die, but she no longer wished to be here - in Nurn. She would have been better off staying in the slave barracks than allow herself to be brought here to be treated like a princess but bullied like a frightened animal. She remembered the exact day Uruvion had found her, and how grateful she had been to him. Her gratitude now sickened her, as did the love she had felt for him. He had dazzled her in those days. No one had ever treated her as if she was important, as if her life was worth much. No one except him. But it had all been an illusion. Like a trick of the light. Nothing had been as it seemed.

If he was dead... then she was free of him, forever. She didn't have to live in fear anymore. At least not fear of him. The fear of the executioner's blade, however, was now very present and real.

I won't be afraid, she told herself. I did something that was right. I have not just sat back and let things happen. I took my own future into my hands. And Rhys is free and alive... as far as I know.

She smiled faintly and went to sit on her bed. She could die proud instead of ashamed. Perhaps it was her Rohirric blood that helped this thought along. The Rohirrim preferred an honourable death in battle above any other end. Morrigan had not belonged to one of the grand families; working the fields of the Westfold, she had never even seen the city of Edoras. But despite that, despite her time here, she was not alienated from the ways of her people.

There was a part of her mind that said she had done a bad thing. It had been the right thing to do in her eyes, but she had taken a life. Killed a man she once loved. But she had delivered herself from a miserable fate, hadn't she? She had prevented Uruvion's vile punishment of the slaves. She had saved Rhys.

She clutched her head, overwhelmed with thoughts. She needed the peace of the night back. She did not want morning to be here, and the conflict and confusion it brought with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: November 6th, 2016, 6:10 pm 
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Doors, staircases and more doors. Rhys hardly noticed them as he raced through the marble hallways. He had grasped the one unguarded moment to flee towards the side entrance of the Great Hall, grabbed Luthien's arm to drag her with him, but as soon as they encountered a soldier near that door to freedom, he had to let go of her and yanked the chains of his shackles against the head of the guard.

Then from one moment to the next, they were alone in the abandoned hallway. But Rhys wasted not another moment to listen to the sound of chaos from the hall and started to run. They went down a staircase, probably the servant's stairs and reached the lower levels of the house. There Rhys stopped. Near the ceiling, there were narrow windows at street level that shed some daylight into the hallway. It stretched out, to his left and his right, on each side more doors without any signs on it.

"The cellar," Rhys said to Luthien, still half out of breath. "She said it had to be down here somewhere. But I don't know which way to go."

----------------

He was walking through a dark corridor. Only by stepping in a pool of light from the single torch on the wall, he could tell the walls and floor were of brick. Beör's pace quickened when he was seized by a crippling sense of terror, which he had come to associate with the presence of one them. The Nine. Loyal servants of the Dark Lord and his right hand and spokesman. One of them was here, even though he couldn't yet see it. The ranger started to run, terrified of what he knew would happen if he would fall in their claws. The corridor was endless, there were no door or windows.

But then how..? How could he hear a scream, a desperate cry for help from afar? Arawen's voice had never sounded so scared before. She pleaded, whimpered, made sounds of anguish, Beör had never in his worst nightmare believed a person could make. She was nearby now, but he couldn't not see her or her tormenter. So he cried out her name, again and again. He had to help her, but how could he save her when he couldn't reach her?
Then suddenly, a white flashing pain and all air was pressed from his lungs as he crashed into a wall. His senses were dulled and he just felt a throbbing pain at the back of his head.


Beör groaned as he opened his eyes. His hand searched the back of his head for the cause of this throbbing ache. His hair was sticky and his hand wet with blood. As he sat up and looked around him, it took him a while to recognise where he was. When a familiar voice sounded from the opposite cell, he realised with utter relief that it had been a nightmare. But even now he was able to distinguish reality from his inner demons, he couldn't shake the feeling of pure powerlessness.

Beör propped himself in a sitting position near the bars of the cell so that he was closest to Arawen. He wiped the sweat from his brow, feeling a strange sense of déjà vu.

"Haven't we been here before?" Beör asked softly. He stretched his arms through the bars of his cell so that he could reach halfway through the pathway between the cells. His hands were still shackled, so he had to stretch both arms through the bars, but they were so bony that he could reach quite far.

"How did you get here Arawen? What had you hoped to achieve?" Beör asked, his voice filled with a hint of disappointment. With Urúvion in power, Arawen had been relatively safe. Playing his sly games, he had always tried to win Arawen over with the intention to destroy Beör. With her being elevated to the rank of courtier, she would be able to map this house and its ways out.

"Your diplomatic skills have always been really awful, did you know that?" Beör's face lit up for a moment when a shadow of a smile flashed over his face. But that moment disappeared as quick it had come.
If Urúvion was dead, whoever in charge now would make sure that all enemies of Núrn would be taken care of. And Arawen had placed herself at the top of that list.

"I wish..." he started suddenly, but at the same time he was taken aback by his own words. In a world so dark and full despair he had not dared to think, let alone utter anything about what he wished or hoped for. "If only the fear and anguish could be over. I wish this would all be over."

-----------

There were times that Lynne had wished for a friend in the household of the Master of Núrn. Not the kind friend a child would ask for, but someone to talk to, someone that would have her back. But that had been hard. The slaves just mingled among each other and the other servants had been wary of her, as she did not come from either Núrn or the West. Most of them had never seen a person before with hair coloured like fire and spotted skin and therefore she'd been treated like an outsider. Now, however, she was grateful for this. Nobody had asked why it had taken so long for the court physician to be warned, when she was the one to get him or why she had changed her attire. And hopefully no one would notice her puffy eyes or her split lip.

There was just one question that distracted the servants from their work and that was whether the Lord of Taurband was still alive. There was a buzz that guards were searching the grounds belonging to Urúvion's house and parts of the city, but for whom nobody knew.

Despite the number of servants being up and about, guards roaming the hallways and courtiers lingering around Urúvion's chambers, the first floor was deserted when Lynne closed the door to the servants staircase with her foot. In her hands she carried a tray with breakfast that she had been ordered to bring to the Lady Morrigan, who even though confined to her chambers had not been convicted of anything yet.

Lynne used to enjoy the moments she spend upstairs. The heat was not so oppressive as downstairs and she liked the company on the Lady Morrigan. But now she tiptoed through the hallways. The china on the tray rattled as her hands couldn't stop shaking. And at every squeak her heart stopped. She expected his hand to suddenly grasp her shoulder or hear his voice from the shadows. Somehow after what seemed an eternity, Lynne reached the door of Lady Morrigan's room. A nauseating wave of relief washed over her at the sight of the door and even of the soldiers guarding it.

"I have orders to bring breakfast to the Lady Morrigan," Lynne said, her voice wavering. The guards looked at each other. One of them laughed sardonically while the other sneered: "Lady, my eye." But they opened the door without further protest.
Lynne hurried into the room as soon as the door closed behind her. Her eyes were fixed on the tray as she crossed the room and placed it on a sidetable. She turned to leave again, not once looking up, wishing to return to the kitchen as soon as possible.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: March 7th, 2017, 6:39 pm 
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Lynne had placed the breakfast tray on the ornate side table in front of a large window and for a moment she stood still as if hypnotized, watching the view. A part of the city and the mountains beyond were visible. She could see the glittering of the sea of Nurnen. Never had she seen anything like it.

All she had known was sand, barren plains, where water and shade was a luxury, something that was precious and hard to find, so people had to move around from place to place. The East was a harsh place. Its climate, the intolerable heat and the sharp winds alike, was relentless. The people were grim and unkind, their language rough. There was little comfort or beauty to be found.

Just like in Núrn, Lynne had never belonged there. The people were tall and lean, dark skinned, their hair was fair and black. There was simply no similarity between them and her. Still, all Lynne knew or remembered was that land, its nomadic life, those customs, but not if she was born there. She was inquisitive by nature, so she must have asked. But everything about her heritage, her home or family was foggy. That was probably because she couldn't remember anything before the time she came into womanhood.

What had happened that would leave her with a blank memory she'd frantically tried to remember. Sometimes, when she was asleep, it seemed like little things came back to her, but when waking from a deep sleep, holding on to these things proved as hard as catching smoke with your bare hands. So when Lynne came to Taurband the Sea of Nurnen was the most beautiful things she'd ever seen or at least for as long she could remember.

In the city of Taurband beauty was more of a commodity. Something that could be bought and had to be possessed. Beauty also meant power and influence. But Lynne had never realised that this made Lady Morrigan powerful as well. She turned away from the window, knowing that she'd been standing there too long. Now she was no longer holding the tray, her hands were trembling again. She just wanted to leave, run away and be alone, but customs dictated that Lady Morrigan had to give her leave to go. So Lynne looked looked at her Mistress for the first time, but remained silent.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: April 19th, 2017, 7:32 pm 
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Morrigan turned to look at Lynne, a faint, hazy look in her grey eyes as she took note of her maidservant's presence for the first time. She glanced at the tray of breakfast and approached it, feeling strangely hungry. By all logic she should have entirely lost her appetite - if she was waiting for death, shouldn't her body have stopped functioning as if she was looking forward to a long and healthy life?

"Good morning, Lynne," she said quietly, focusing on the other young woman, who did not look at all keen to be in the same room as her. Who could blame her, really? Last night she had tried to kill Uruvion - her intended husband. Lynne was probably afraid of her. Or worse, afraid and angry. Morrigan's decision to poison Uruvion against her advice put Lynne in danger too. What would happen to her maid if she was accused of collaborating with her mistress? Morrigan would be given a relatively merciful death, as a woman of high rank in the city, but Lynne would be spared nothing. It was the horrible, sinking guilt that took away Morrigan's appetite now. Her own death meant almost nothing to her - but Lynne... that was another matter.

"I'm sorry," she said, walking towards her and stopping a few paces away so that they faced each other, Morrigan in her rich furs, Lynne in her maid's attire. Yet were they really so different? Morrigan had never asked Lynne about her life, about where she had lived before coming to Nurn - or rather, being brought to Nurn. Very few came to the city of Taurband of their own free will. The rich, the nobles, the traders, the slavers, came and went as they pleased. The thousands of others who were traded like cattle were forced on the long, sandy march into the city. They had no choice; from the moment of their capture, they were someone's property.

"Whatever happens, you won't be involved," she insisted, although in her heart she knew she could promise no such thing. "You did nothing wrong. I'm sure you'll be given a good place after... after I'm gone." She paused. Gone. Did that mean imprisoned, dead or sent back into slavery? It could mean anything. But she did not hold out much hope. "You've been kind to me and I want to thank you for that. Not many people here have."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: April 26th, 2017, 4:54 am 
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Lynne intuitively took a step back when Lady Morrigan approached her. Only the thought of someone coming close, touching her arm or brushing past her made her panic. Like a caged animal, she would either flight or fight and there was no way of knowing which of the two Lynne would resort to.

She placed one hand on her diaphragm and controlled her breathing, hoping that the wave of panic would pass. Her face was ashen as she looked up at her Mistress, both hating and fearing her. This morning Lady Morrigan looked fragile and breakable, so unlike last night when she had been as hard as ice, seizing power like no woman ever had in this house. But that confidence she'd shown, was now replaced with unbelief of how she was still alive and free.

Distracted by these thoughts, it took a few moments before Lady Morrigan's words sunk in and Lynne actually understood what she said. Every moment since last night, she'd needed all her strength to keep going, to behave like nothing happened and set one foot in front of the other. But now for the first time she fully considered the consequences of the events of last night.

What if she was arrested and interrogated of how her Mistress got hold of the poison, or even just the idea of this unspeakable act? Lynne knew what they did to prisoners, to make them talk or confess. What if they send her to the barracks where only the half dead lived, raw and exhausted from hard labour, and where the will to live was beaten out of you every single day.
What if the thing happened to her that happened to so many girls who had lain with a man without being wed. Their bellies would swell and no one would see or hear from mother or child again. Or perhaps nothing would happen. She could remain in her place and as its price be preyed upon forever.

Overwhelmed by the horror of her own thoughts and the possibility that soon they could be reality, Lynne stumbled backwards. A blush crept up her cheeks as she realised she wasn't really behaving like her normal self at all. She had to focus on her work. The mistress had spoken to her, thanked her and it was her place now offer reassurance and comfort.

But what of what she needed and all the things she craved for after those dark hours?
She needed sleep, water and soap, to run far away from here. It were Morrigan's words of gratitude that made Lynne forgot all about etiquette and social class.

When her voice made a sound it first sounded choaked. Then she tried again and her voice grew stronger: "How.. on earth can you have the audacity to first ruin my life and then thank me?" All the pain that she felt last night surfaced, but it was impossible to speak of it. Still the red haired girl continued, her arms hugging her own body, but her face hard and full of hate.

"Are you so blind that you can't see that the Master is under your spell? He will never condemn you for what you did. Instead he will point to another, to the witch, the foreigner who has more reasons than his own fiancee to act on such insanity." Lynne voice broke and she turned her back to her Lady. She looked out of the window at the lake, which brought somewhat comfort. By rights she should fear for her Mistress's reaction after what she did, calling out like she did was something unheard of. But there wasn't anything left in her to worry about such trivialities. "What should I do now?" she whispered more to herself than anyone else in the room.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: April 26th, 2017, 12:55 pm 
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"No point wishing," Arawen found herself saying bluntly. "That won't solve anything." It may have sounded harsh, but it was true. She had not hoped for anything, at least not for herself, for a long time. The only thing she had concentrated her efforts on throughout this whole escape plan had been freedom for Beor and Luthien. She had seen herself as a vessel for their salvation, nothing more. In her mind, she had no part in the future. She had seen and done too much.

Hope for herself had failed a long time ago. That didn't matter so very much, not anymore. But to find that her hope for her friends had also failed came as a grave realisation. This knowledge numbed her more than anything else. It was a retreat into safety to feel nothing, to turn her back on emotion. She was aware of a mild annoyance at her foolishness in trying to be some sort of saviour. It hadn't worked. In the dining hall, she had let anger consume her, forgetting her caution, her plans, the safety of her friends... she had failed. And in more ways than one.

She had allowed Beor to grow to rely on her again. That should never have happened. He was looking at her now, waiting for answers, waiting for fresh hope when she could give him none.

"Rhys and Luthien will figure something out," she said slowly, though she hardly believed this. "We wait for them now. There's nothing I can do, not anymore." She smiled bitterly. "I'm sorry I went for Uruvion with the knife. But I have been so angry with him for so long, I could no longer contain it." She laughed shortly. "I didn't make a very good job of it, did I? That girl, that Lady Morrigan, made a better assassin than I."

~~~

"Lynne..." Morrigan struggled for words. She had never seen Lynne like this before. Her violent reaction stunned Morrigan. But in reality, shouldn't she have known? Shouldn't she have been more sensitive, perceived that her maid would have her own feelings on the matter? Perhaps Morrigan shouldn't have spoken at all. She certainly wished she hadn't. If Lynne felt helpless and alone, as she clearly did, what could Morrigan possibly do to help her, when she felt exactly the same?

"Forgive me," she begged her now. "Please. I was selfish, I know that. But I thought... I felt... that I simply could not go on living the way I was. I thought I had no other choice. For the first time I took my life into my own hands, but now I wish I had not. I should have thought of you too. But I have to tell you. My position at court may have looked like a place of safety... but it was not, Lynne. It was not safety." Her voice was agonised with pain as the words rushed out almost of their own accord. "I thought he loved me but he did not. Does a man in love smash his beloved's head against a stone wall?" she demanded. "If I die, I will at least die free. Isn't that what everyone hopes for? Freedom?"

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: May 14th, 2017, 5:35 pm 
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Lynne turned to face Lady Morrigan when she heard her pleading words. A lady asking for forgiveness from her maidsservant seemed like the world upside down. If her mistress only knew what had happened that night after she'd caused chaos; for what she actually asked forgiveness. Lynne shook her head slightly and banned a sudden memory flash of his rancid breath and his hands on her skin from her mind. It was something that could not be forgiven just like that.

"Love, freedom.." Lynne uttered, repeating the words Lady Morrigan spoke of with such passion. But to her they were formless, like foreign syllables. "I don't even know what these words mean."
Dining halls lit by candle light, fresh vegetables and aromatic spices, ice cold hands from the bucket handles, the heat from the kitchen fires. Those were things she was familiar with. Would freedom make you feel as warm as standing near a roaring fire on a cold night? Or make you feel alive even though your lungs are burning just like after running a long distance. Or perhaps it felt more like the cook's giddiness when he had too much port.

Lynne wiped her palms off on her apron, but found that she could not avert her eyes from her mistress any longer. She stepped closer to Morrigan until she was so close that she could see that the rings under Morrigan's eyes were almost as dark as hers and that the make up, she'd applied so diligently the night before, had not yet been washed from her mistress's pale face.

"The master is not a loving man. That is not what he will offer you," Lynne whispered so soundless that Lady Morrigan could barely hear it, even though the guards were more then thirty feet away on the other side of a heavy door. "He is a man of power, a man who conquers and divides. You must play his game by his rules, show him power and strength. Only then he will regard you as his equal."

Lynne suddenly stood still and listened for a moment with her head slightly tilted, like a deer in the wind. There were heavy footsteps in the hallway, coming closer. "I must go," she said while she rushed from her mistress's side. She turned to the four poster bed, which was still made from the day before and then to the corner of the room to collect the laundry basket. A chill went down her spine like a sense of foreboding and she knew she could not leave the room unnoticed.

--------------

Beör nearly cringed as Arawen snapped at him. Slowly he pulled his arm back from between the bars, which then slumped alongside his emaciated body. He shut his eyes as if that would shut out her voice as well as the scarce light. He liked hearing her voice. It had been an unimaginable relief when he first met her to speak to someone, a kind and smart person. Even when she was no longer there, Beör had sometimes imagined what he would say to the Arawen he knew before she had served Sauron's right hand man. But now her voice was empty, except for the hint of despair, which he himself knew so well. It was harder hearing her like that than her snapping at him.

"Stop it," he said quietly. "Please, just stop." The ranger sounded tired and a little hurt. Their long journey, the endless marches had worn him out. Still it had been Urúvion who had extinguished that flicker of hope, which he first felt when he had gazed upon the stars again and it was now replaced with resignation.

"Lets not pretend anymore. It's alright, I know you tried everything. We might never be free again. But if that were to be the case, I would have you be yourself again, your real self. With you here, I could face it. So please stop, Arawen. Or else I would be as good as alone and there is no fate worse than that."

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: August 6th, 2017, 8:18 am 
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Time trickled away, whether it was slowly or quickly, Beör did not know. Time had no meaning in a place where there was no light from the sun, moon or stars, except the flickering light from a torch. There was nothing from which to derive time or a daily routine. Sometimes there was food, sometimes there wasn't. No one had told them if Urúvion lived or died and they had to pay for it. It seemed like they were forgotten by the world.

Arawen said little and was mostly silent. Only a soft shuffling sound sometimes betrayed her presence when she would sit or stand up. Perhaps darkness had seized her once more, Beör couldn't tell. At any rate he did not initiate conversation any longer, wishing to spare himself the hurt caused by her silence. How he missed Luthien- dear Luthien! Her sunny disposition and never faltering optimism would drag him out of darkness, no matter how low his spirits.

But she got away, of that Beör was sure and he was glad for it. Someone so young and innocent was not meant to be held and caged like this. But those who weren't so good and pure perhaps were not meant to be free. Those who had not appreciated the life that was given to them, those who harboured hatred or resentment, like he had. Perhaps it was not chance that they had been caught by Urúvion's horsemen, perhaps it was fate.

Dark had been Beör's thoughts of late. They tormented him while awake and clawed at him in sleep, making him believe that this darkness, this timelessness and loneliness was all that there was left.

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 Post subject: Re: Starless Night
PostPosted: August 25th, 2017, 2:35 pm 
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Arawen could not pinpoint the exact time she had fallen asleep. She had spent much time lost in thought, scarcely aware of when she paced or sat; it all seemed to be a dark, shadowy blur. But sooner or later she had drifted to sleep - and that was when the dreams started: the dark dreams that she believed had stopped. A cold sweat broke out on her skin, and her slender frame began to tremble violently. Terrible visions chased across her subconscious. She saw Luthien, alone and afraid She saw the faces of people she did not know - and the faces of those she did.

The Mouth of Sauron loomed over her, bearing his sharp teeth in a malicious grin. "The Dark Lord is displeased," he said. "He will have you brought back, Arawen - we cannot have you sharing everything you know."

"I know nothing!" Arawen protested, even though she knew this was not true.

"Liar, liar, liar," the Mouth taunted her. "Didn't I always tell you that you shouldn't tell me lies?"

"Leave me alone!" Arawen yelled, not realising that even though she was dreaming she was speaking aloud in the gloomy little cell opposite Beor's, and that he would be able to hear her.

Next in line to torment her was Uruvion.

"Why do you keep trying to run away?" he whispered maliciously. "You know however far you run you'll never be free of me,
Arawen."


Arawen uttered a wordless scream, and this was when her eyes snapped open, and she was once again back in the cell. She was still shaking, sweat icy cold on her skin. Hyperventilating, she looked around to see where her invisible tormentors were, but they were not there. She saw only the outline of Beor in his own cell. Still, she scrambled backwards into the corner of her cell, as if seeking to make herself disappear. Her bright blue eyes were blank with fear. She could feel the presence of the Mouth's black magic; it was he who had sent her the nightmare. When would he leave her be?

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