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Exorcism


Short Summary: Narthalion releases Lek from being haunted by a wight.
Date (real-life): 2009-05-08
Scene Location: Barrow Downs
Time of Day: Night
Weather: Clear and cold
Bree, Outside the West-gate(#9091Ranto)
To the east and north lies the village of Bree which is nestled under the western flank of Bree-hill, a grassy mass against the skyline. The East Road crosses by a causeway, but where it pierces the hedge, it is barred by a great gate. Night has fallen, and it's impossible to distinguish much outside of Bree itself. The town looks welcoming from here as lights twinkle from the hillside in Bree.

Night in autumn, the cool air brightened by the waxing moon and the countless stars, shining clear in a cloudless sky. The gate is closed, and the light of the gatekeeper's lantern is the only sign of the many inhabitants of Bree. Now and again a faint breeze whispers through the grass, swaying the long stems and rustling the drying leaves of the hedge. Something stirs, the movement of hooves upon the ground, a tall white horse swaying and nickering as it eats contentedly of the fading grass.
Near at hand, back to the hedge, sits the traveller, he who named himself as Narthalion. His hood is drawn, his face in shadow. His form is well-concealed, save for a long, high-booted leg that stretches negligently upon the grass. From his lips wends a quiet song, murmured words lost in the night, his only company in this lonely place.

Lek is not, as a usual rule, frightened by darkness. But these past nights for some little while, he has kept indoors where lamps burn brightly and people congregate. And tonight, he comes as bidden, but his hand is clutching the little shining stone he was given so hard that it has pressed a mark into his palm, and his fingers are white with the pressure. He sneaks through the shadows up to the hedge and swarms over it (not loudly enough to bother the gate-keeper who drowses under the light of his lantern) and stands shivering slightly and looking around. His eyes dart at every shadow; he starts at every sound.

Narthalion gives no sign of alarm at the sudden arrival of Lek - indeed, the boy's arrival may have gone unnoticed, for the Elf does not move at all. It is not until the last strains of his song have died out that he stands, gathering up a small bundle that had sat at his side. He moves toward the horse, who (it may be seen) is saddled and bridled. "Come. The way is long." The bundle he attaches to the saddle with a leather throng, and turns to offer a hand to Lek. "I would not have this creature come within Bree."
He is utterly calm, as any among Men who have passed a restful night in some fair and happy place.

Lek stares up at the great horse, the fear that is kept at bay by the presence of the elf temporarily forgotten in amazement. "Never seen one like that," he says, awed, then looks at Narthalion's hand. "We're gettin' /on/ it?" he squeaks.

The Elf laughs, grasping Lek's hand whether the child will it or no, "You are." With which the boy is swung up upon the horse, so high that his knees are of a height with Narthalion's shoulder. "Do not trouble; he will not let you fall. His name is Rochall."
The reins are wound round the pommel of the saddle, the black leather twinkling with silver stars. Lek's feet may come to rest upon a blanket of crimson silk, and every turn of the horse's feet sends up the shivering of tiny bells. Yet, were the boy to look down and to his left, Narthalion has left in its place upon the saddle a long and slender sword. The blade cannot be seen, but the hilt is rich with silver and jewels, wrought with the cunning and skill of the Noldor in Valinor.

The boy ignores the pommel, winding his hands as tightly in the horse's mane as he can manage, and somehow looks both exalted and terrified. He does glance down once, then gulps and hurriedly looks away again. It is /awfully/ far down...

So soon as the boy is settled, or as settled as he is like to be, the Elf sets off. Nothing whatever is used to guide the horse - Rochall follows his master without bidding. Down the road to the west they go, toward the Greenway Crossing, keeping ever in the ditches beside the road, though they have met no travellers. The horse's gait is smooth and swift, a match for that of Narthalion. Such is his pace that had he been on foot Lek would have been obliged to run, if he did not swiftly tire.

With the first step, Lek takes one more look at the ground, then turns slightly green and squeezes his eyes shut as tightly as they will go. But soon he becomes a little accustomed to the smooth pace of the horse, and although still holding on for dear life, opens his eyes just a little. The trees are sweeping past, black and in the moonlight, and the cold wind brushes his hair back over his forehead. It is like a tale or a dream - the cold clear air and the musical jingling of the bells.

Hollow Circle on the Barrow Downs
This is an odd place upon the barrow plateau. Here, a low hill rises up, only a foot or two from the plateau level. However, it is crowned with a great earthwork ring about three feet in height, providing a bit of shelter from the winds that blow across the downs. At the ring's center is a tall, upright stone, which for some reason seems rather ominous in and of itself. Across the valley to the north-northeast, you can see a line of dark shapes that must be the trees along the Great East Road, outside the Barrow Downs.

It is perhaps fortunate for Lek that the journey thus far has seemed as a dream, for suddenly it has taken on the shades of a nightmare. Long they have been upon the Downs, though few barrows have been seen, and those few to be noticed only by those who are looking for them. Since they left the road all has been even as it was, a cool, still night in fall. But as the hill comes into view, with its black stone ringed by ancient earthworks, the wind suddenly whistles sharp and cold. It brings with it a cloying fog, draping the hills.
Narthalion continues on untroubled, bringing Rochall and his charge to the foot of the hill. "Here we will leave Rochall for a while," says the Elf, reaching up once more to give Lek a hand in dismounting.

When they first turned from the road and headed south, Lek went very white. And now that the elf has stopped, right at the foot of a hill that bulks evilly overhead and seems to reach out with foggy fingers to steal the boy's very soul, he can't move. His eyes are very wide, fixed on the looming stones, and his fingers frozen in Rochall's mane.

Narthalion's hand remains poised, but when it is not taken he looks up with an arched brow. "Come, now. Do not let these petty tricks frighten you. No harm shall come to you so long as you keep hold of that stone I gave you," The earnest tone in which these assurances are uttered fully hide the insignificance of the gem, Noldorin-made though it be.
Once again the boy is moved against his will, the Elf's free hand unknotting Lek's fingers from the horse's mane. But though it moves him where he would rather not go, he may indeed find Narthalion's touch a boon. There is comfort in it, a spreading warmth that banishes the icyness of the wind and seems to lighten the shadows of the fog.

Lek gulps, his gaze caught in horror by the black leaning slabs of stone high overhead. And although the elf uncurls his fingers from the horse hair, he keeps his hand tightly closed around the little shining jewel. And once, his eyes move fearfully to Narthalion, as he slips from the horse to stand, very small indeed it seems, on the cold ground.

One hand remains perched lightly upon Lek's shoulder while the other unties the leather throng and slips the little pouch from the saddle. "We go up," Narthalion murmurs, pushing Lek gently from behind. Still the Elf is hooded and cloaked, and to see him one might think that he were no otherwise than Lek, save taller and unafraid.
Now and again, out of the corner of the eye, one might think they catch a glimpse of shapes moving, tall ephemeral men, perhaps.

The boy shrinks back against the tall elf behind him, looking around him, and now and then jerking his head around as he sees /something/ move... but nothing is there. The cold wind moans softly through the grass, curling around the fallen stones. "It.. y-you..." Lek tries to say, but his mouth is dry as a desert and he stops, swallowing. Step by reluctant step, he climbs the hill.

Up and up, and now the crumbling ring is before them, great upheaven blocks of stone. And in their centre, one upright, a blackness glittering in the night. Narthalion's hand leaves Lek's shoulder now, "Your piece of gold." His head is turned to the south, his gaze stretching out over the leagues of fog and the barrows there, their inhuman dwellers visible to the eyes of Aman.

Without the touch of the Noldo's fingers, the boy is frozen, terror singing through his bones and turning his blood to ice. In the pale moonlight, his face is very white, and his eyes look dark and dazed. He sways a little; if the gem the elf had given him were of any lesser thing, it would be crushed in his fingers, so tightly is he holding it. 
But despite the deadly fear, he tries to obey. His hand twitches and then is still again. Then it creeps into his pocket - but Lek can do no more. He gives a faint moan, and his eyes close.

The Elf kneels, and gentle fingers finish what Lek cannot. Soon the piece of gold is tucked safe in the palm of the Elf's hand. Yet there he does not stop. He takes Lek's clinging hand in his own, loosing the child's little finger and revealing a sliver of the stone he holds. So soon as it is revealed to the unveiled starlight, it gives of a light of blue rays, a pale fire in the child's terror-white hand.
"Peace, child. They cannot harm you." His words are seeming at odds with the new terror that comes to meet them. For so soon as the Elf steps within the ring of stones a keening fills the air, as the wailing of the voices of the dead in anguish.

Lek cries out, and plugs his ears, but the sound can't be shut out with fingers. The elf leaves his side, and he falls, curling into a ball on the stony ground. But the gem is a tiny trickle of comfort, of warmth and hope in a world where everything is bleak and cold and filled with death. The boy cradles it to his cheek, keeping his other hand flat over his ear in the vain hope of shutting the sound away. And so, in watching the blue fire he holds, he can see also what might become of Narthalion.

The Elf does not stop until he has reached the black stone. There he stands, tall and grey against the stone. He draws back his hood, but now his face is pale and grey, as the faces of Men. In his eyes the fire of Valinor might still be seen, but it is muted, as though a veil were drawn over it.
The bag is untied, and one by one he begins to set the little trinkets contained therein into the palm of his hand. Something flits by him, a shadow darker than the nightshade bearing down upon him, and for a moment it bears the face of one long-buried and worm-eaten. Its hand stretches out for the treasure, fingers of bone clutching for it.
From its lips flies a scream of lust and hate, and then at last Narthalion's eyes flicker up to the wight. It hesitates, seeing in his eyes, maybe, with whom it has to deal. Its shrieking multiplies, picked up across the Downs and echoed. But Narthalion's countenance displays his hate of this creature, and his words in an Elvish tongue bring sudden, heavy silence upon the Downs:
"Be quiet."

The cessation of sound is a physical thing. Lek's tense body relaxes a fraction, and he stares at the elf... is he glowing? A glance at his stone, for reassurance - it still burns with blue fire - and cautiously, the boy takes his hand from his ear.

The wight is not to be put off so easily. Its treasure is in reach, it may yet regain it. Fear having failed, it must now try another means of assault, through enchantment and spirit. A song it begins to sing, an eerie cant that sings of lust and a life amid bones. Does not the Elf too yearn for the grave, with the weariness of the deathless, it asks? And would not the boy prefer silence to the troubles of life? Yea, and more it offers, its words growing more and more desperate as its treasures are dropped one by one to the grass, and its power over them fleeing.
To no avail does the creature address the elf, so its turns its hungered expression upon the boy. "Come with me. To the dark places we will you, you and I and my treasures. Among the worms you shall lie, upon the beds of kings, you and I and my treasures. Wait we will, for the lifted hand, for the Dark Lord in his dark land, you and I and my treasures..." Its voice takes on an insidious quality, wending into heart and mind and seeking to shut out all else.

Lek's eyes lift, unwillingly. And as the dark seductive voice worms into his mind, his face goes slack and his eyes blank. The little gem still held in his hand flares up, and for an instant, the boy remembers - looks down again at the elven-stone - is free... but only for a minute. Slowly the boy stands up, not even brushing himself off, and takes a stumbling uneven step towards the rocks. His fingers begin to uncurl, loosening their hold.

Narthalion turns, and in his eyes for an instant is registered the horror of the situation. "No..." he murmurs or gasps to himself, darting as swiftly as he might towards the boy. He moved too late and the stone is not enough...
As if the Sun and Moon together were unleashed upon the hill, so does Narthalion become. A blaze of light that seems to set the hilltop on fire.
Garments of black and crimson become white, and so fair and noble has his face become that scarce can it be endured, and upon his brows three stars are set ablaze. So are the children of Valinor in their wrath, the lords of the ancient Noldor.
By light itself and the power of Narthalion's spirit so revealed breaks the enchantment of the wight, shattering its hold both of child and treasure to grains of sand. And the wight, turning upon the light, cries in terror and flees into the mists, dispossessed of its treasure forever.

This image is engraved on Lek's brain; the light so bright that it turns light into darkness and shatters that darkness and returns it to light. For an instant he stands, like a puppet held up by strings, and then he crumples to the ground. The strings are cut, the light is gone. In his upturned palm, the small gem still glows; he did not drop it, though now his fingers curl but loosely about it. And his face is peaceful, freed of both terror and trance.

As Narthalion kneels, the light about him fades, until it is only an Elf and child alone upon the hill. Lek is collected gently in his arms and lifted up, sheltered from the cold wind by Narthalion's cloak. As he bears the boy down the hill he smiles, "You were brave, child. Let us get you home."

Lek has fainted, his mind no match for the power of a wight. As the elf scoops him up, his hand is flung onto his chest, and so the little jewel is not lost - it slips into a fold of the boy's shirt. But it is not until they are partway back that he begins to stir, to blink in confusion, and stare up at the one who carries him.

Whatever may have happened that night, none of it is to be seen upon the Elf's countenance. His eyes are alight and turned upon the stars, his lips parted with the wonder of those who see something beloved, and yet new-seeming. A song he sings, a sweet melody of praise, the word "Elentari" often on his tongue. When Lek awakes Narthalion glances down, but his song continues, unfailing and low as the music of the sea.

The smooth drum of hoofbeats, the jingle of bells, this music... Lek blinks and moves his head, then struggles to free one hand to touch his eyes. "What..." he asks. "What are you singing?"

Narthalion goes silent a moment, though the song seems to hang in the air a while after. "It is a song that the Elves made long ago, upon the shores of Eldamar. We sing it, and many other such songs, when the stars are bright. For long ago, ere there was Sun or Moon or any count of time, the Elves awoke beneath the starlight. Therefore we sing in joy to Elentari, Elbereth, the Queen of the Stars, who made them."
"No sun?" Lek sounds half-asleep. Disbelieving. He is silent for a while, thinking maybe, and then a frown stirs on his face. "Was.. was that real? That...thing?"

"The wight? Yes, it was real. They are old and evil spirits sent to the Barrow Downs to inhabit it. There they took up the bodies of the Men who were buried there. They seem strange to you? But they are 'real', if I understand aright how you use the word." He speaks slowly, his voice hushed, unwilling to break the half-sleep of the boy.

"It was dark," Lek says dreamily. A while passes, short or long, who can tell. "It talked to me..."

"I know," comes the answer, some while later. His brows knit and he looks again to Lek, "What did it say?"

"I..." Lek's voice falls off and his frown deepens. "I don't remember," he confesses. "There were..." He grasps at the tatters of a dream. "...gold?" he says uncertainly. "And swords, I think."

"Swords?" Asks the Elf, laughing. "Maybe. It does not matter." For a while they ride on in silence, until once again they have gained the road. "Close your eyes and I will weave a dream for you. When you wake you shall be in Bree again."

Lek's eyes flutter shut. "But," he asks, persisting. "What did you do? I thought... I thought... it was so bright."

"You will see." He sets up a murmur then without words, a sweet and enchanting melody. Beneath it runs a current of thought to dance beneath Lek's closed lids.
At first he might hear the rippling sea, the splash of fountains. Then the scent of air crisp and laden with flowers. Then flitting sights crystal stairs and high towers, of a vast mountain crowned in light and fields of flowers unfading. Waterfalls pour from golden cliffs, eagles soar over sparkling cities roofed in silver and gold. From a high tower upon a high hill to fields of golden corn, the mansions of the gods in the hills of silver night are Lek's dreams woven, and through all mingles the living joy of Elven song.
Then, suddenly, two tall and mighty trees gleaming silver and gold, a vision as fleet as it is fair.

And the boy slides from waking to dreaming, a smile curving his lips, the frown easing away.

As they near the gates of Bree and the lamp of the gatekeeper, the visions are lost in a mist of time. Forever they will remain a thing half-remembered, something grasped at and never gained. The sleeping boy is passed down from the horse to the gatekeeper, a whispered request to bear him home going with him.
Who can say what he may recall when he awakes?

The boy barely stirs as he is lowered into the astonished gateman's arms. "But," stammers the man, "But... who /are/ you? And..." He looks into the sleeping child's face. "It's young Lek. What were he doing?"
Unnoticed by the man, in his confusion and suspicion, a faintly blue rock falls to the ground.

"Dreaming," the Elf answers, and turning rein Rochall bears them away into the wilds of Eriador.


Date added: 2009-05-08 19:18:03    Hits: 48
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