Howdy and Happy New Year - Thanks Thug, that was just what I had in mind. I was trying to give a sense of how the Elves see time differently than everyone else. The climax of the 1st part is coming so the passage of time will be less. I want to give a sense of dealing with powerful beings, who are flawed and full of ego. There's going to be a lot of sibling rivalry too.

Nargothrond – Year 495 of the First Age of Middle Earth


He spurred his horse after Morelen in the growing darkness, his blond hair whipping behind him. He knew the enemy was near and that the danger was growing rapidly. A knot was growing in his belly as images of dragons floated in his mind. Why does she have to be so willful? She will be the death of me.

He slapped his heels into the horse's flanks and leaned in close to its neck to gather speed. As the darkening landscape blurred by, he whispered a prayer to Manwë. "What must I do? The path before me is naught but darkness," he said metaphorically. "I can only do what I think is best. Please…give me your guidance."

His mind stretched out ahead and sensed Morelen, riding at a full tilt, her youthful exhuberence overpowering any rational thought. An image of water came to him and he knew she was fording the River Ginglith.

I must hurry. I can catch her there.

He thought briefly of how easy his journey had been up to now. Once out of Ardor, they had taken a Swan Ship to the Isle of Balar that was held by Círdan, the Shipwright, a Sindarin Elf of great renown. Fëatur met with Círdan, who was close with Finrod Felegund. Círdan towered over the Mentalist, standing well over seven feet in height with a ruddy complexion and reddish blond hair. Despite his years, he had a youthful face that hid the pain he felt when Morgoth sacked his Havens of Brithombar and Eglarest nearly twenty years ago. Though Fëatur could not tell the mariner of his mission, Círdan gave them shelter for a time.

All that I've worked for could come to ruin in seconds. It was amazing how, in the mind of the Elves, centuries could pass without much thought and then, in the blink of an eye, one moment could mean the difference between life and death.

He reached the banks of the Ginglith as the Moon rose over the horizon. He gave it a cursory glance, giving it thanks for the light that would guide his horse. His Elven eyes quickly adjusted to the dark and he could see Morelen's horse scrambling up the far bank and into the trees.

He called out, his fear of being discovered overcome by his fear of her demise. She looked back and gave a childish laught as she disappeared into the forest. He uttered a frustrated grunt and plunged his horse into the river, hoping that it would not falter. He noted that the water seemed fouled, no doubt a deed of the Orcs and the dragon.

Luck was with him and they emerged on the opposite bank. Fëatur shook the murky water from his hands and face and then urged the horse into the woods. Once surrounded by trees, he felt the aura of the Elves once again and sensed that the forest was yet untainted by the stench of Angband.

But it is only a matter of time.

The short miles to Nargothrond quickly passed as Fëatur wove his horse around trees and bushes and over rocks and stones, crossing the River Ringwil. Hooves splashed in the shallow, rushing water as his mood darkened. He resolved to give Morelen something that would end her dangerous willfulness once and for all.

Then, he heard a shriek that chilled his blood.

Forgetting all sense of safety, Fëatur spurred his horse down the narrow trail that led to the fabled city underground. His horse was strained under the effort, spitting foam with each breath. As the sound of a great river filled his ears, Fëatur felt his stomach tighten and knot, knowing that disaster awaited him. He quickly enveloped himself in a mental cloak, scattering the solidness of his image to cover his approach. The sound of his horse's hoofbeats faded into a soft patter as well.

As he broke from the trail, he emerged onto a landing which led to the great bridge across the wide River Narog. His eyes darted about, looking for the source of the shriek, but all he saw were the shattered Doors of Felegund that had stood as a barrier to the enemy for so long. The great doors lay askew, broken from their foundations by the violence of the dragon, Glaurung.

Fëatur quickly dismounted and drew his long, curved dagger, known as a kynac in the South. Its silver blade reflected the Moonlight, casting a glow on his face. He took note of the soot and ash that covered the bridge, evidence of Glaurung's fury.

"Túrin, that fool," he said in a whisper about the man who had brought about the bridge and led the Elves to ruin, "If he had only led Nargothrond remain hidden…."

"Unfortunately, the bridge worked both ways," said Morelen, catching Fëatur off guard. He jumped, but quickly caught himself and looked at her with annoyed eyes.

He stood erect and marched over to her, letting his mental cloak evaporate. He put his hands on his hips and gave her his most stern look. "I told you not to run off like that. The servants of the enemy are near."

"Indeed they are," she said, showing him Orodreth's dagger, which was covered in Orc blood. "Just inside the doors, there are three who won't trouble us," she added as she wiped the dagger on a dirty cloth.

This was too much for Fëatur. He seized Morelen by the arm and pulled her just inside the shattered doors to stand in a sliver of moonlight that shone through. He glanced at the three Orc bodies that lay crumpled near the portals. "I tolerated your antics at Balar so as not to offend Círdan. Now, you are under my care and I'll not have my task undone by a willful child. While we are in the wild, you will obey me. Am I understood?"

Morelen seemed unimpressed. "As you wish," she said in feigned obedience. Then, she gestured upward and Fëatur's eyes followed. His jaw fell open.

Despite the defilement of Nargothrond, Finrod's great city was still a wonder to behold. The entry hall was massive, with a vaulted ceiling filled with grottos and hanging stalactites. As Fëatur's eyes wandered, all of his senses were filled – the fragrances of flowers, the sound of running water, the tinkle of bells. Then, he saw the smashed fountain in the center and the broken statues of great Elves. He sighed heavily. His own treachery had led the Noldor down this path. He had given the enemy great help before his repentence. His mind touched on what he had done, but the wound was still raw.

"Get your horse…it's too late to continue on. We'll camp here and continue on tomorrow."

A thoughtful look came over Morelen. "Fëatur, who are my parents? I've been with you twelve years and you've never once mentioned them. I know you are not my father."

Fëatur felt as if he had been punched in the gut. He coughed nervously. "Actually, I don't know," he lied. Lying had been a way of life for him as a servant of Morgoth, so he knew the act well. But somehow, this was different and it wounded him this time. "You were given to me to care for and I have done so," he said, weaving in a grain of truth. "She is a surgeon so I suspect your mother is dead." Dead in spirit, most assuredly.

"Do you…do you care for me?"

Why couldn't she just shut up and go to sleep? Why did she have to vex him when his only mission…his only concern should be to overthrow the enemy?

"I…I care that we fulfill a higher purpose."

"I have my answer then," she said without emotion. Again, she looked thoughtful and Fëatur knew he wasn't going to like what she was about to say. "What did you do that was so horrible?"

The Citadel of Ardor

Ardana – The Lady

In the tower of the Citadel, The Lady sat in quiet contemplation, looking out at the stars as they twinkled brightly. Her blue gown shimmered in synchronicity with the lights in the sky, bathing her in a dim radiance that made her pale skin seem even whiter. On the horizon, the great orb of the Moon rose, causing Ardana upset as it bleached out her beloved stars.

She thought back to her union with the Dark Lord and her skin tingled. It had been some years since that event, but in the mind of an Elf, it seemed but minutes. She looked up at the domed ceiling of the tower and gazed upon the likeness of the heavens, a three-dimensional rendering of the web of stars as Varda had made.

"Moran, come here and look at this," she said in her detached, ethereal voice and a young boy, not quite a teen, came and stood by her. He was fair faced with hair as black as the night, standing tall in courtly robes with a sword, strapped to his waist. "Your father desires me to recreate this sky, free from the offensive lights that mar them."

"It is my wish as well, mother," he answered in a clear, high voice.

"I know you will understand when the time comes," she said, hinting at his enevitable demise at her hand. "You must have no fear. You must be brave as I have told you."

"I will," he said, not knowing his fate.

Ardana smiled vacantly. "Good…good. Now, run along. I have brought Valkrist here to continue your tutelege in skill at arms. You must master these arts, my son. I will also have Rilia and Fëatur show you the powers of sorcery. You will be invincible in battle."

"We will crush the enemies of my father and peace will reign here."

She reached out and grasped him lovingly on the cheek. "There's a good boy," she said and sent him on his way. How quickly he had grown. It seemed like the blink of an eye. In another blink, he would be dead, his blood to coat the ceremonial dagger given to her by the Master. And then, all would be as it once was.

Ardana watched her son walk away. So proud he was to be of the Master's line. She had instilled that in him. She felt a chill grow in the pouch that she kept her cards in and knew that someone desired to speak with her. She reached in and drew out The Mirror, a card depicting a blonde person gazing into a mirror-like basin of water, which reflected the image of Fëatur – the female.

"Good evening," she said as she focused her energy on the card. The object shimmered and the person in the card turned to face her.

Fëatur's lips were pursed in a petulant expression, giving her youthful features an arrogant, pouty appearance. "Good evening. I wanted to inform you of a plan that I have," she said, restraining her excitement. Her black robes were perfectly tailored to fit her slender form. She had a high, flared collar that surrounded her head, giving her a powerful, aloof look that was surely intended.

"I sense that it is a good one by your tone."

A smile excaped Fëatur's lips. "Indeed. I am drawing up the plans for an Order that will further our cause. I have recruited promising adepts already."

"I see. Tell me more."

"Ardaron, the Lord of Orbs, has procured an island off the coast. We begin construction within the month. It would have been a good place for Morelen to learn, should she have survived."

Ardana took a breath. The topic of Morelen was still a sore one with her. She had originally intended for the girl to have been the sacrifice and to raise Moran as the heir to the Master. Somehow, she could still feel Morelen in her heart, impossible though it was – she was dead.

"Yes," she said with some annoyance, "it would have been good for her," she finished, indicating that the topic was at an end. "Proceed. I'm sure your brother would have been of much help."

Another sore topic. Fëatur raised an eyebrow. "I have not thought of him in many decades." Ardana knew that was a lie. The twins had been as close as could be, attached at the hip, some would say. "He was a fool to fall away from the Master's wisdom. I'm sure that his time now in the Halls of Mandos will be fruitful. We should give him no more thought."

Ardana nodded and the image of Fëatur faded, to be replaced by the person, gazing into the mirror. The Astrologer sighed. Administrating and leading an organization of evil was often a tedious thing. Powerful beings were usually arrogant and difficult to control as she was finding and not all of them shared her single-minded determination to carry out the Master's will. Many seemed to have their own agenda and, as with most Elves, they lacked the sense of urgency to make things happen quickly.

"It is my burden to bear," she whispered as her attention returned to the stars.


Rilia – The Sorceress

The Sorceress stood on her balcony, watching the spouts of magma erupt into the air around her fortress. A sinister red glow shimmered on her face, accentuating her tawny amber hair. Her flame-colored robes caused her to blend into the fiery display as she held her gray staff.

In a moment of frivolity, Rilia summoned fire to her hand and a smoldering hunk of lava flew to her grasp. She laughed with abandon as her mind propelled it high into the air to burst like fireworks.

She sensed a presence in her chamber and turned to see Linsûl, the Harpist. The Sindarin Elf was dressed in her usual form-fitting tights, her sensuality cast out for all to see and her blue, almost violet eyes nearly glowed in the shadows. "Rilia, I have a guest for you to meet."

The Sorceress turned to see a tall male, cloaked from head to toe. She raised an eyebrow. "Who are you?" she asked abruptly in an arrogant tone. She sensed power beneath that cloak.

The man bowed, but did not speak. Linsûl smiled broadly, flashing her perfect teeth. "His identity is not negotiable, but everything else is," the Harpist said saucily, rubbing her hand on his chest. "I bring you…a member of the Guild of Elements. We now have direct insight into the mind of the enemy."

The man remained bowed. "At your service, Sorceress."

A smile now broke across Rilia's full lips, which were painted fiery red. "You will be well rewarded, my friend," she said, now with a warm tone. "Tell me…tell me what my friend, Chrys is doing these days."