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Old 01-11-2009, 11:01 PM   #277
Shade with a Blade
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: A Rainy Night In Soho
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Gwathagor is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Gwathagor is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Gwathagor is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
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Caranthir and Tathren

No sooner had he passed the great gates of the city which clung to the side of Lake Helevorn, but Tathren was apprehended by two soldiers, clad in the red and black livery of Caranthir's personal guard. Up the straight, broad avenues they ushered him, courteously but swiftly, and soon passed beneath the resplendent, iron-hard towers of the great fortress. It stood upon the very brink of a cliff which dropped straight down a hundred feet to the lake below. And in the midst of the palace, he met Lord Caranthir Feanorion himself.

Upon his high throne Caranthir sat, haughty and still. Clad all in black he was, save for a red cloak which was flung about his shoulders. His high crown of diamond sat upon his dark hair and across his knees was laid his sheathed sword. Behind the throne, daylight shone in through tall arched windows which overlooked the lake and created a golden aura about Caranthir's throne.

Tathren sank to his knees instinctively some distance before the throne, even as the guards swung the great doors shut behind him.

"Approach, envoy of our throne."

Tathren obeyed, for it was Caranthir who had spoken, but he kept his head bowed as he drew near to the steps which led up to the throne. Caranthir was silent for a moment, perhaps choosing his words.

"Why are you alone? Lachrandir did not return with you, his charge. Why?"

"My lord, I bring you word from the House of Ulfang. They say - "

"Answer me, Tathren. Where is Lachrandir? Where is my herald?"

"My lord - " Tathren found he could barely force the words from his mouth. His face burned and his stomach felt hollow. How can I? he thought. How can I possibly explain? The wrath of Caranthir was infamous through all the kindred of the Noldor and Tathren feared for his life if he should deliver this news. Then, as if from a very great distance, though it had only been some days, Tathren heard Lachrandir's voice echoing and remembered the words the older elf had spoken to him on the day of their arrival at the Easterling hall: Come, boy - Remember, speak precisely, if you're called on to talk, and not for long. That should serve well enough. And Tathren hardened his will. Yes, Uncle, he thought. He would do his master this last service, this final obedience. This was still a hall of state and he was still a royal envoy. He raised his head and met Caranthir's eyes. A chill went down his spine - but it was not fear.

"He was murdered by we know not whom. His body I burned with his banner and his ashes I cast upon the river, that they might come in time to the sea and thence to Valinor."

So saying, he drew forth the elvish knife he had taken from Lachrandir's body and presented the hilts to Caranthir. There was a silence. Caranthir's jaw hardened and his eyes glittered, but his brow remained unfurrowed. Tathren's gaze wavered before those terrible, penetrating eyes - and then suddenly, sharply Caranthir stood. Tathren swallowed and steeled his nerve as Caranthir descended the steps before the throne, stepping quickly and lightly as the crimson cloak rippled behind him. In a moment his hand was upon the dagger, which he took by the sheath. He held it up and turned it in the light for a moment and then he spoke - and the voice, while stern, was not wrathful.

"I believe you tell the truth, page. This is Lachrandir's knife, there is no doubt. I have seen it at his side a hundred times. If what you say is true, then I say you did what you could - and you did well. So Lachrandir is dead. What of your message? Do the Ulfings heed the summons of their liege-lord?"

"Lord Caranthir, they do. They have agreed to fight beside us, should war come."

Caranthir laughed. "Should war come! It is already coming. All of us - even you, page - will have our fill of war soon enough. Very well. That is all."

Tathren was stunned. That was all?! "What of Lachrandir?" he said in surprise. "Is - is that all?"

Caranthir had begun to ascend the throne once more, but he turned back on Tathren. "Have the Easterlings not agreed to honor their pledge? Lachrandir's mission is discharged, his purpose to me fulfilled. What more is there?"

Tathren remained kneeling and speechless.

"I would have hid my disdain from you, boy. If Lachrandir was fool enough to let himself be murdered - by a pack of Easterlings, no less - then he has received all he deserved!"

"He died serving you, lord!"

"And so he should."

"But do you not wish to see justice for your servant, your faithful servant? Can you not, as liege, see justice visited upon the Easterlings who killed? Do you not at least wish to know why he was killed?"

"No! I do not!" Caranthir paused, and then, on second thought, said: "Here. Take his knife. I dismiss you, Tathren." He thrust the knife at Tathren, who took it in trembling hands.

Without another glance or word, Caranthir resumed his high throne and motioned for the boy to be let out. The doors swung wide and Tathren left the throne room of Caranthir, head bowed, Lachrandir's knife held in both hands, wishing all the curses and imprecations his young imagination could muster upon the harsh king and wishing, last of all, a kind of vengeance upon Caranthir: that the alliance for which Lachrandir had died would come to naught.
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