Yes, I'm actually updating. I know, shock of all shocks. Truthfully, there are no excuses. I allowed a lack of response to keep me from writing and I shouldn't have. As I was planning this chapter, however, I came to the decision that for the time being I'm putting the story on hiatus. I will still be working on it, but I will not be posting another chapter until I have completed the story. My writing habits are unfair to anyone who should choose to read my stories. There are about eight more chapters to this story to go and I hope to have them written by the end of the summer. Any stories written by me will, from now on, be completed before posting.
Anyway, I hope anyone who's still reading enjoys this chapter. I'm sure there are mistakes in it, but I could stand to edit it anymore. So please read, relax, enjoy, and review. Oh and I apologize if I've butchered the German, I'm still learning the language. Translation is at the bottom.
Par usual, I don't own LOTR, but that's ok 'cause I'd kinda like to own Star Trek right now.
Aragorn stood shocked by what he saw. How they had managed to capture the elven prince was beyond him. When he'd encountered him several weeks ago, the elf had been heavily guarded. It didn't bother him much that the elf was held captive here, but what he did wonder was why. For what reason would they have to capture him. Aragorn turned to ask the master, but he beat him to it.
"We've had him here about a week," he said. "Glynn's men are very talented."
"Why? What do you plan to do with him?" Aragorn asked.
"He's an integral part of our plan. Actually you might say, he is the life of it," the master said, smiling a little.
"How so?" Aragorn still didn't understand.
"Elves, by their nature, are among the purest beings on this earth. Babies are too, but only for a short while. Very quickly, they are filled with impurities, not to mention they're so small there's very little Life in them. But elves, they're different. They retain this purity throughout their life. And as they grow their Life grows too. It is that purity, that Life that I need to bring my family back."
"What kind of sorcery is this? I've never heard of such a skill. How do you plan to take his Life from him?"
"It's an old art and I won't be the one doing it Aragorn," the master said, looking directly at him with his entrancing eyes. "I do not possess the ability to do so, but you do."
"You want me to kill an elven prince?"
"You hate them as much as I. Surely you can find no wrong in such an act?"
"Aye, I do hate them, but murder?" Aragorn looked at the master with doubting eyes.
"Remember your vision, Aragorn," the master ignored the look of Aragorn's eyes, instead gazing with even more intensity at the younger man. He took a step towards him to emphasize his point. "Remember what they did to your family. They killed your father and hid the truth. They widowed your mother. Think of her grief; did they even care? No, it was all part of a great plan. They destroyed your family. Now you have a chance to take revenge."
The anger Aragorn had felt during the vision resurfaced and surge through him. They had taken his family from him and shown no remorse for it. They angered Aragorn even more. To take a life and not feel guilt was deserving of revenge.
"What is it that I need to do?" he finally asked resolutely. For a brief second he thought he saw the hint of a smile flicker across the mouths of the master and Glynn, but they disappeared before he had time to register them fully.
"Today is simply a test. We need to see how it works and you need practice," the master explained.
"What must I do?"
"Grasping Narsil, you will need to recite the incantation that I say," the master explained. "It will need to be repeated several times as the power grows. Once you feel the power peaking, touch the tip of Narsil to the elf's heart and imagine yourself pulling and draining his Life. During this time, you need absolute concentration, do not allow yourself to become distracted. I imagine the first time you will have difficulty, but the more it is done, the easier it shall become."
"Understood. Shall we begin now?" Aragorn asked.
"Certainly," the master replied. "I will recite the incantation with you the first couple of times, but it is only you that can use it to build power."
"Aye," Aragorn said, removing Narsil from her sheath and aiming it towards the elf. The elf tried to look brave, but his eyes betrayed him showing the intense fear that was welling up inside of him. The master then began to speak, reciting the incantation. After a couple of times, Aragorn joined in, closing his eyes in concentration.
"Felsen, Bäume, und Wasser
Kräfte des Altes
Ehrwürdige Götter der alten Tage
Sehen Sie die Ehre innen
Und geben Sie mir die alten Kräfte.
Füllen Sie mich mit dem Mystiker."
As Aragorn repeated the incantation for a fourth time, the master fell silent, but Aragorn took no notice. He was far too busy concentrating on the lines to take notice. The words were strange and he had no idea what it meant. Briefly, though, the phonemes registered as something vaguely familiar. He'd heard those sounds before and not long ago. Before he could figure out where, he was reminded of the situation before him by a deep intake of breath. The breather was before him, the elf he concluded. Curiosity and instinct forced him to open his eyes. He caught a brief glimpse of a bright green light from in front of him. Though it had been short-lived, he had managed to use the incantation to gather power in Narsil. He looked towards the master and Glynn. They were both watching anxiously.
"You were on the right path, Aragorn," the master said. "Try it again and this time try to get enough power to take some of his Life."
"Aye, master," Aragorn nodded, the name rolling off his tongue with pleasant ease. Like last time, he held the sword out towards the elf's heart, closed his eyes, and began to repeat the incantation. This time, however, he conjured up images of his childhood, juxtaposing them against his newfound knowledge. The concoction of memories and feelings, spurned on the hatred within him and as the anger welled up, he found himself feeling a familiar power building up. He welcomed the feeling, embracing the strength it gave him. Amidst this, he remembered the elf before him. The vile being, whose race had ruined his life, was there for his taking. He gripped Narsil tighter with his hands, feeling the warm hilt. It was warmer than usual. It must have worked, Aragorn thought to himself.
Replacing the memories of his life, with the image of Legolas sitting on the dirty floor and chained to the stone wall, he reached out with his mind to feel the elf's Life. It took mere seconds to find it, shining a bright cool blue. Aragorn found himself jealous of its vibrancy. He wanted it more than anything he had ever wanted. He moved the sword forward until it hit flesh. He barely took notice as the elf cried out in shock. Through the sword, he reached out with his mind until he could feel the elf's Life at the tip of Narsil and beckoned for it to come to him. When it struggled, not wanting to come, he refocused himself. He repeated the incantation louder now and in his mind, working to feel and absorb every word. The power once again built up within him, reaching a level he had never before felt. When it peaked, he called for the Life again, this time ordering it to come. Once again, it struggled, but this time it was in vain. The Life came slowly at first. Inpatient with the current speed, the increased his efforts and it began to move faster.
The Life added to the power he already felt, making him feel unnaturally strong and powerful. Still, it did not make him hesitate. He reveled in the power he was gaining. He continued draining Legolas, unaware of his surroundings and the passage of time until a familiar voice called to him. It was the master. Startled, Aragorn stopped draining.
"That is enough, Aragorn," the master said. "Return his Life."
Aragorn would have liked to keep the power. The elf would not need it, for he was just sitting here. Nevertheless, he began to return the power. It was far easier to send it back, almost as if it wanted to get away from him. In mere seconds, nearly all of the elf's Life had gushed back to the pointy-eared being. Just before all of the power was returned, he removed the sword from the elf's heart and opened his eyes. The master would never know that he had kept some of the elf's Life. He liked the feel of it in his body. It stood out from the rest of him, yet it melded to him as though it was part of him. It coursed through his veins like blood, but he could tell that it was much different from blood. Blood didn't feel so invigorating.
"Excellent," the master said. Aragorn's peripheral vision caught the man walking swiftly towards him. "That worked wonderfully."
"But master," Aragorn began, turning to the man, who now stood just a couple feet in front of him, "did you not need the Life I drained from him?"
"Yes, of course. But not now. This one elf is not nearly enough. We need more elves."
"Quite a few more and that is your next task," the master responded before turning quickly on his heels and walking towards the door. Glynn followed him. Aragorn paused for a second, thinking about the master's words. How many was "quite a few more," he wondered. Beside him, the elf moaned, but he ignored it.
"You do not have to do this," Legolas said, his voice pained and weak.
"Shut up, elf," Aragorn spat at him.
"Do you even know what you have gotten yourself into? He's not who you think."
"I told you," Aragorn began, moving towards the elf, "to shut up." He slapped the elf's cheek harshly to emphasize his words. Without another word or doubt, he walked briskly, but confidently out of the room. Even on the stairs, it seemed brighter. Glynn and the master were waiting at the top of steps for him. As he joined them, they said nothing. Aragorn followed them through familiar hallways. Rather than turning to return to the master's room, they continued walking. This hallway was not different from the others Aragorn saw. Weapons and banners decorated the gray stone walls. In a couple of minutes, they were at the end of the hallway and Glynn was pushing open a tall wooden door. Beyond the door was grass. As the three stepped out, Aragorn saw that it was not just a grassy meadow, but also a training ground.
Out on the field, he saw six men sparring with swords. Each was dressed differently, but not distinctly. They wore an assortment of armor, some of it metal, some leather. A couple of the men were missing a few pieces of armor, but not of them entirely critical. Underneath their armor, Aragorn could see clothing in varying shades of brown and white. Though the men looked far from professional, their sword skills were hardly amateurish. While Aragorn had seen better sword handling, he had also see far worse than theirs.
"Who are these men?" he finally asked.
"Your team," the master said from beside him.
"Team?" Aragorn questioned his voice slightly incredulous.
"Admittedly it's not a large team. Not nearly the manpower you'll need," the master conceded to Aragorn's doubt. "You'll have to recruit more, but these men are quite skilled. They brought in that elf."
"I can't lead a group of men," Aragorn said. "I'm not the man you're looking for."
"On the contrary, you are exactly the man who can lead these men. In fact, you are the only one that can."
"I don't understand," Aragorn said, looking at the master.
"Just as no one else can wield Narsil, so can no one else lead these men. You hold a certain power within you that will give you the ability to lead these men. Already it has been ignited. It will guide you," the master explained. "The men know of a couple of villages where you can recruit men," he continued, not allowing Aragorn a break to ask questions. "They too are elf-haters."
"Train them and capture elves," Aragorn finished hastily. "I got that, but how many."
"There's no way to tell. Just capture elves and bring them back. I'll tell you when you've captured enough," the master explained, his voice short. "Bjorn," he called. One of the groups of men stopped sparring. One man sheathed his sword and jogged over to where the three stood. "Bjorn, this is Aragorn. He'll be taking over command. You're to do everything he says without hesitation," the master instructed. "Glynn," he called and turned to walk back towards the wooden door. Glynn followed wordlessly, leaving Aragorn and Bjorn. Aragorn hesitated for a moment, an awkward pause filling the silence.
"Well," Aragorn began, "Bjorn, show me what you've been working on."
"Aye, sir," Bjorn said after a slight pause. If he doubted the other man, he didn't show it. The two walked over to where the men had stopped sparring to watch the two men. "The master's brought us a new man. This is Aragorn. He'll be in charge." Bjorn's statement was answered by a chorus of aye, sir's.
"Since we'll be facing off against elves, we'll need to have the proper techniques. They are very skilled fighters, very agile and swift. Fortunately, I am very familiar with their styles," Aragorn explained. "I'd like to see each of you in action, so I can see where we need to improve. Each of you will be sparring against me. Bjorn, you're first."
Bjorn nodded and the two moved away from the others to gain enough room for the match. Both unsheathed their blades. Bjorn's blade was clearly an old blade, but well taken care of. Without hesitation, Aragorn launched himself at the other man, who raised his sword to block the oncoming attack. Their swords locked for the briefest of seconds before Bjorn forced Aragorn's sword away and making an attack of his own. He swung at the right side of Aragorn's abdomen. It was wide open and he thought it would bring a quick victory. Seconds before the blade struck, Aragorn moved his blade to block the incoming hit. Just as suddenly as the block came, did Aragorn shove Bjorn's sword away. Bending slightly, he also forced an elbow into the man's stomach, shoving him away fiercely. Bjorn staggered backwards, hunched over slightly to ease the pain in his stomach. Before Bjorn had much of a chance to recover, Aragorn went on the offensive, attacking the man so ferociously he could not find a chance to make even one attack.
The match ended as quickly as it began. Aragorn made the killing strike after forcing Bjorn to the ground. With Narsil pointing at the other man's throat, Bjorn had no option but to surrender. After a tense moment, Aragorn removed the sword and helped Bjorn to his feet.
"Well," the former ranger said, "I can see we'll need to do some training. Next." Bjorn sheathed his sword and returned to the men. Bjorn's sparring partner, Caleb, stepped up. As with Bjorn, Aragorn made the first attack. It seemed as though the match was over in just a minute, far quicker than Bjorn's match was, but it still ended with Aragorn making the killing strike and Caleb surrendering.
Aragorn went quickly through the other four men, defeating each of them as swiftly as the first two. They all showed promise, but would need work. Tristan was the weakest, but as he found out during their evening meal, he was the newest addition. Before being recruited, he'd worked as a stable hand with no fighting experience. Caspar and Bryce were at the same level. They were brothers and grew up sparring against once another. Gavin, though younger than the rest, was talented. He still lost quickly to Aragorn, but Aragorn could see the potential in him. Caleb too was at about the same level. Bjorn was by far the most talented of them, but his skills needed refining as did his fighting attitude. Although they'd taken down Legolas, they were all inept at defending against elven tactics and moving on to the offensive.
After the sparring, Aragorn pulled Bjorn off to the side to talk to him.
"Yes, sir?" the man asked.
"With the new men that we'll be getting, we're going to need more of a chain of command," Aragorn said. He paused as if expecting Bjorn to speak, but the man said nothing. "I'm going to need a second in command. I'd like you to fill that position."
"Aye, sir," Bjorn said.
"Tomorrow after the morning meal, we need to start laying out plans for recruiting and capturing the elves. In the afternoon, we'll start training. We have a lot of work to do to get these men in shape."
"Aye," Bjorn agreed.
"Good," Aragorn said. "Now, let's go join the rest in the evening meal."
After a hearty meal, the seven of them sat in the dining hall talking. Aragorn watched as the others took out a long pipe, filling it with an herb from a small pouch and lighting it.
"What is it that you smoke?" he asked curiously.
"A mixture of weeds we find in the forest," Caleb answered. "Would you care for some?" He held his pouch out to Aragorn.
"I don't have a pipe."
"Here you go," Caspar answered, breaking from his debate with his brother to toss Aragorn a pipe. "I always keep an extra 'cause Bryce is always losing his somewhere and he's a real grouch if he can't smoke."
"Thanks." Aragorn took the pipe, filling it with some of herb mixture, and lighting it. He handed Caleb the pouch back and settled into his chair to listen to the conversation. The mixture was quite pleasing. It was sweet with a little bit of a bite to it. It reminded him vaguely of cinnamon, but he couldn't place the herbs. Nevertheless, he enjoyed it as he listened and learned about his men. Tomorrow they would have to begin training in earnest and begin making plans to recruit men from the villages the master had mentioned.
Translation of incantation:
Rocks, trees, and water
Powers of old
Venerable gods of past days
See the honor within and
Grant me the ancient powers
Fill me with the mystic.